Beyond the joke review

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.

Review by
Bruce Dessau, published October 2014