Review: An Evening Of Eric And Ernie At Christmas, York Theatre Royal, December 1

YORK Theatre Royal audiences already had enjoyed one divinely daft double act this late-autumn in Theatre by the Lake’s Jeeves & Wooster in Perfect Nonsense.

Nostalgia was writ even larger on Saturday night when doppelganger duo Jonty Stephens and Ian Ashpitel paid tribute to Christmas Day national institution Morecambe & Wise, playing to a gleeful full house with a Christmas tree by their side.

Stephens and Ashpitel were newly back on terra firma from their P&O cruise travels with their Eric and Ernie cabaret, and like Morecambe & Wise, their partnership is rooted in a long friendship that gives them intuitive comic timing, wherever, whenever.

They previously presented their play Eric And Little Ern at the Grand Opera House in 2014, and on their York return they focused on a combination of classic sketches and new material in the style of Eddie Braben’s writing for the duo.

Their physical and vocal resemblance was uncanny as their performance combined slapstick physicality with quick thinking, nimble movement and some gentle teasing of singer Becky Neale in the time-honoured guest slot as they clowned around behind her in Sondheim’s Send In The Clowns. Nostalgia really was as good as it used to be.

Charles Hutchinson