With the blessing of the Cooper Estate, John Hewer takes to the stage in the guise of one of Britain’s most loved comedians. This is a nostalgic recreation of some of the best of Cooper’s madcap tomfoolery, and for that it delivers on every one of its promises.
Chances are, if you’re not old enough to appreciate Tommy Cooper when he was alive, you might find this style of magi-comedy a tad unsophisticated. Cooper was the master of the failed trick, elaborately eggy prop gag and cheesiest of one-liners. But it was all about the ability to reduce an audience to hysterics with a single look. Hewer, in this toughest of challenges, performs admirably. The mannerisms have clearly been carefully practiced and every glance rehearsed over and over to produce a highly authentic portrayal.
Normally in a stand up performance you hope that you’re not hearing old jokes, but here the opposite it true. Like a bunch of ageing fans at a reunion concert, we were all hoping to see familiar material, the punchlines excruciatingly anticipated long before their delivery.
Hewer is assisted by pianist-cum-famulus Christopher Peters; a stooge for most of the show, but not without flashing his own talent by singing Joyce The Librarian – Flanders & Swann style – as an interlude and accompanying Hewer stumble through We’ll Meet Againat the finale. As a love letter to Tommy Cooper, Just Like That is sealed with a loving kiss. And a prop gag.