Now Here’s A Funny Story

Aug 16 2017 | By More

★★★★☆    Nostalgia comes alive

theSpace @ Symposium Hall (Venue 43): Mon 14 – Sat 19 Aug 2017
Review by Hugh Simpson

Now Here’s A Funny Story!, a celebration of Music Hall by Funny Story Productions at the Symposium Hall, brings back to life the era of Marie Lloyd and Champagne Charlie.

People of a certain age have a general familiarity with songs like Burlington Bertie or When I Take My Morning Promenade – partly because they were passed down from older generations, but in truth more because of their continuing presence on television. This was largely – but not entirely – due to long-running entertainment The Good Old Days; even children’s TV could make passing reference to a Harry Champion song, safe in the knowledge it would be understood.

Elsie Bloom as Marie Lloyd, Tommy Parsons as Champagne Charlie. Pic: Michael Wharley

That no longer seems to be the case, so a show like this is extremely welcome. The redoubtable Jan Hunt, a fixture not only of The Good Old Days but also of Crackerjack, directs this whistle-stop singalong history tour. Mitch Feral provides an elegantly constructed script that gives sufficient historical background – both general and specifically about the halls– to give the songs added interest.

It is those songs, however, that are the attraction. A clever balance is struck in terms of theme and tone, but overall the feeling is decidedly upbeat.

What could have been a purely nostalgic exercise is given considerable life by the personas of Tommy Parsons and Elsie Bloom. Parsons, performed by Mitch Feral, is an ebullient interpreter of the material, while Airlie Scott’s rapport with the audience as Bloom is particularly good. Joe Bickerstaff’s piano accompaniment holds it all together.

There is a certain element of preaching to the converted here; the intended audience does seem to be a mature one. In which case, it is unfortunate that the words printed in the programme to help you sing along are rather too small for aged eyes to see in dim light.

Many of those attending will know the songs already, however; if you don’t, all the more reason to go along and hear them.

Running time 55 minutes (no interval)
theSpace @ Symposium Hall (Venue 43), Hill Square, EH8 9DR
Monday 14 – Saturday 19 August 2017
Daily at 1.55 pm
Book tickets on the Fringe website:
Company Website:
Facebook: FunnyStoryProductions
Twitter: @funnystoryprods

Elsie Bloom and Tommy Parsons as the Irish pair. Pic: Michael Wharley


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  1. Frankie R says:

    I saw this show in the run-up to the Fringe and while I am too young to remember the songs first time around that made no difference to the exhuburent sense of mischief & joy I got from the show. Finding yourself talking about it the next day too was a bonus as well, a kind of index for how strong an impression a show made on you. Highly recommended. Bravo!