Learn to Play the Ukulele in Under an Hour (How George Formby Saved My Life)
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2008
Following a long depression, Sam and Donal sought solace in the ukulele. Let them teach you the basics, singalong with their uke-karaoke machine (ukuleles proided) and learn how a little instrument can help things 'turn out nice again'.
This is just lovely; a straight-down-the-line, gentle, sweet, completely enchanting show, tinged with melancholy.
Comedy suits, audience participation, music, two straight men, visual aids and George Formby are elements that together you’d expect to drench a show in comedy repellent, but magically it all pulls together. At one point I couldn’t quite believe that an entire audience was strumming as one, and softly singing You Are My Sunshine and nobody sniggered or wanted to puncture the mood of the moment. Drop this show into Afghanistan and watch peace and tranquility break out.
Performers Sam Brown and Donal Coonan almost seem to outdo each other in modesty on stage and their relaxed friendly rapport seems uncontrived. There are references to genuine grief (death of a much-loved father) and depression (since birth), but this is not to harrow the audience, but for me set a contrast with the usual associations with the grimacing, frantic and inane racket of George Formby.
As well as teaching the audience, the show takes a dafter turn with its probings into the George Formby Society. Hardly the intrepid undercover investigator, Sam expects to find racism and the BNP in Blackpool, but instead finds gentle family fun. They also have the wit to let a ‘controversial’ Formby biographer, David Bret, speak for himself and provide some unintended laughs.
The show builds up a nice head of steam and pleasingly ties together its many threads . It’s deceptively simple, extremely polished and charming comedy with heart. Treat yourself and see it, you’ll feel better about life.
Reviewed by: Julia Chamberlain