Wisdom of a Fool runs at LOST Theatre from 8 – 11 March 2017, click here to book your tickets: Lost Theatre Box Office
Engine Shed and David Phillips present:
March 8th – March 11th 2017, LOST Theatre
★★★★★ “an incredible performance from this super talented man who you really believe is Wisdom” Leicester Mercury
In Wisdom of a Fool, Jack Lane takes you behind Norman Wisdom’s well-known character to reveal a tough and lonely childhood. After joining the Army, Wisdom discovers a passion for comedy; and the world of post-war Music Hall and Variety embraces Norman’s manic slapstick routine, catapulting him to stardom in the early 1950s. Success on the silver screen, including the hit song, ‘Don’t Laugh at Me’, seals his fame. But fame comes at a price… Jack plays 30 characters throughout this tour de force performance. The Gump costume that features in the play belonged to Norman and has been generously loaned to the production by his son and daughter, Nicholas and Jacqueline Wisdom.
“Lane’s performance is truly incredible as he explores the facets of Wisdom, and it would take a heart of stone not to be moved” British Theatre Guide
Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, tell me about the piece and your character(s) / What was your initial impression of the script?
I play Norman Wisdom in a one man play called Wisdom of a Fool, It looks at his early life and career taking you from childhood up until the making of his first feature film, Trouble in Store. Norman’s story had fascinated me for many years, when he passed away I made a promise to myself, that one day I’d write a play on his life. We’ve had three plays on Morecambe & Wise, five on Tommy Cooper, Kenneth Williams, Tony Hancock etc but nothing on Norman. I found it odd, to my mind his story was the most fascinating and troubled of them all. It’s a classic underdog story, which the British public have a love affair with.
Was it easy to translate from page to stage?
Knowing I was to perform it whilst writing made a huge difference. You’re able to hear the voices in your head, how you want each character to sound. Norman’s life story is a tricky one as there’s simply so much to tell, the hardest part was deciding what to leave out, If it was simply an anecdote which would do little to advance the plot it had to go. Making sure there’s never a dip in the passion or action was also at the top of my list, especially when dealing which a high-octane character such as Norman, unless you’re playing the emotion the narrative can’t slow to a crawl at any point.
Did you have any ideas about what you wanted to bring to the role(s)?
In terms of performance my main concern was finding his soul. What motivated him; his past, the audience, fear of failure, all of these were a consideration. I wanted the audience to feel they’d spent an evening watching Norman and a whole host of characters from his life tell a single story. I wanted his persona to be there but also give the audience a glimpse of the man. I worked tirelessly on his voice to ensure it came across natural when needed. The other 30 characters all have their own personalities and demeanour to set them apart from each other no matter how brief their appearance may be.
What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?
I think anyone who comes to see Wisdom of a Fool can be guaranteed one thing, to be moved and entertained by Norman’s incredible story, fan or not. It’s a story of hope, courage and self belief. What that man achieved in his 95 years is hugely inspirational to anyone at any age, I hope audiences leave with a new found respect for Norman and feel good feeling in their heart.
Thanks to Jack for a great interview, the show sounds like one not to be missed!