Drama reveals the real Norman Wisdom at The Capitol, Horsham

Jack Lane. Picture by Stephen Candy
Jack Lane. Picture by Stephen Candy

Jack Lane still works part time at Horsham’s Capitol as a technician and duty manager.

But his stage life is taking off with the huge ongoing success of his Norman Wisdom show, Wisdom Of A Fool which he brings back to the Capitol on March 31 and April 1.

“It has been absolutely crazy,” Jack says.

“We opened here in September 2015, and we went on tour the following January. We started at the Yvonne Arnaud in Guildford, and we played all over the country, including, incredibly The Isle of Man where Norman lives. He is buried there. It was wonderful to see his grave and have a little bit of a moment with him. We went after the show and were dashing about all over the island, trying to find his grave. We went to the wrong church, which Norman would have found hilarious!

“But we found it just in time, and we got there just at sunset, and it was beautiful. It was great to have that moment. I am portraying his life on stage, which is something for him obviously, but also he has done a big thing for me. I felt at one with him. And I think he would have liked the show.

“In the show, I have to look at the realities of his life which are very dramatic and quite dark. He was all about comedy and entertainment. But I do think he would have liked what I do. My job is the realities, not just to do an impersonation, but he would have enjoyed it as a narrative.

“The original idea for me started when he passed away in 2010 at the age of 95. When we opened the show in 2015, it would have been his 100th birthday. We opened it in his centenary year.

“When he died, there were all these shows about the comedy greats, Morecambe & Wise, Tommy Cooper, Kenneth Williams and Frankie Howerd, people like that, but nobody had done one on Norman. I was waiting for one on Norman to come along. But no one was doing it, and I thought again about how fascinating his life was, and I thought I should have a go. I just wrote and wrote and wrote and developed the idea over a series of months because they were very supportive to me here. That’s what you need. You need the time when you are trying to research and develop something. I was trying to find Norman, trying to find his voice. I never wanted to rip him off and do an impersonation for two hours, but I wanted to capture a sense of him.”

And also the people around him.

It’s a one-man show, but Jack still manages to bring in around 30 other characters, Norman’s mum, his agent, his dad and so on. Inevitably, the show has changed since Jack launched it.

“We have changed bits and pieces as part of the natural evolution of the show, just as you adapt it every time according to the audience you have got in front of you.”

Norman has just taken it to London: “And a producer has now taken if off me and is booking a tour for the autumn.”

Tickets cost £17-£18.50.

Call 01403 750220 or visit www.thecapitolhorsham.com.

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