Review: The Comeback (Noel Coward Theatre)

Duo Alex Owen and Ben Ashenden, aka The Pin, made the transition from radio to stage for their first play The Comeback, which has returned for a short West End run.

Playing both the warm-up act and the main attraction, fading veteran comics Jimmy and Sid (whose theme song, Northern accents, and 80s ITV success bears more than a nod to Cannon and Ball), this pair have written a lively farce which clips along at 85 minutes.

There’s room for a guest star, too, cunningly placed in the front stalls (at this performance it was Toby Jones), who gets literally pushed and pulled into the action.

A finely constructed script of the kind of tired jokes and messed-up routines you might find at the end of the pier in a forgotten town relies heavily on the fact the two pairs of comedians would be constantly mistaken by each other just by the addition of a hat.

It’s as tall a tale as the one about the swimming instructor, but suspend your disbelief and enjoy the prop swaps, clever use of a set which is basically a theatre curtain which allows the story to pan out on and off-stage.

The prop box, the Hollywood director who thinks Didlington (the small town where the show is set) is ‘a dump’ but is now visiting, the groan-inducing puns.

All play their part is this nod to upcoming comics on the variety circuit (“we can always go back to The Giggle Box”), and to old-timers trying to hip to new audiences who really just want to see their old routines from a less complicated time.

I enjoyed The Comeback, which is very funny, employs the time-honoured chase routine, and captures the seedier side of showbusiness. The show is directed by Emily Burns, designed by Rosanna Vize, with lighting by Prema Mehta and sound by Giles Thomas.

You can catch The Comeback at the Noel Coward Theatre until 25 July 2021 – book tickets here.

Find out more about The Pin here.

Image credit: Marc Brenner

LouReviews received complimentary tickets to review The Comeback.