I arrived a little late for Just Like That! but I soon worked out what was going on. I had originally assumed that this was a revival of the play by John Fisher about Tommy Cooper’s life that ran in the West End a few years back. In fact it is a more straightforward trick-by-trick tribute to the comedian famous for his fumbling manner and his fez.
John Hewer, who is still in his twenties, does a very good impression of Cooper, rattling through the magic and patter with the kind of slickness that suggests he has watched a lot of videos and spent a lot of time in front of his mirror. I was going to say that this is a no-nonsense homage but there is, of course, plenty of nonsense as illusions repeatedly go wrong before eventually going right and then wrong again.
The classics are present and correct – bottle, glass, glass bottle, spoon, jar, jar spoon – and there are also a few set-pieces that I didn’t know about. I was unaware that this star of the dying days of vaudeville had covered Bob Dylan’s Blowing In The Wind – the gusty gag he plays with the song is very similar to the one I saw Cooper do on TV with the tune Autumn Leaves.
Just Like That! is very much a loving ode to this comic oddball. You can imagine this show going down a storm at the seaside in front of adults and kids every summer until Hewer is as old as Cooper was when he passed away.