TOUCHING THE PAST, a play about Nancy Astor, Britain’s first female MP
STORM feature film based on the SAS’s secret war in Oman is in pre-production with director R. Paul Wilson
NIGHT, a new play, opens at The Old Library, Bodmin December 2019
ALL AT SEA, feature film comedy, was released in September 2019
  • The Express, Windsor, July 27 1995
    This is kind of special: Don't miss it
    • There's nothing deep about all this, nothing startling, but Sykes' old sailor has been magnificently written by author Hugh Janes, the jokes come with a degree of irony which is appealing, and there comes a scene when he finally gets the major tight that audiences will love for a long time.
      My bet is that this piece will play and play for years, if the reaction of the Windsor audience was anything to go by. I urge anyone who likes to go to the theatre for enjoyment and for the observation of uniquely talented people to book now. You will thank me for it.

      ... a thoroughly super comedy, flowing over with the milk of human kindness."

      ... new, funny, charming and warm."
      Bill Hall

  • South Wales Evening Post, September 13 1995
    Quality play is charming
    • A charming play, this production has quality stamped through it like a stick of Brighton rock.
      The superb timing of the play makes a triumph of the comedy without detracting from its poignant moments.

      Bath Chronicle, August 15 1995
      The lighter side of growing old

      Gentle black humour kept the audience laughing as the quips on life in the twilight years kept coming thick and fast.
      This play looks at a sensitive subject in a positive, funny way which kept the audience laughing to the end.

      Plymouth Evening Herald, September 5 1995
      'Oldies' shine in poignant comedy

      "... a truthfuly sensitive, often poignant study of old, though not senile, age, with a lot of laughter that springs naturally from the characters."

  • The News, Southsea, September 19 1995
    Old stagers in new success
    • "... and amusing and ultimately touching comedy."

      Essex Chronicle, October 6 1995
      Battling oldies are pure gold
      If you're very lucky, you might still get tickets to see the team of Eric Sykes, Michael Denison, Dulcie Gray and Carmen Silvara in Hugh Janes' gentle comedy, a play which has people laughing all evening.

      The Western Mail, September 12 1995
      Experience counts as pensioners shine
      "... the action flows smoothly as the plot slowly develops to the delight of the audience. The script is witty..."

      Leatherhead Advertiser, June 29 1995
      Two Of A Kind is one that will have you laughing in the aisles

      The stage, October 12 1995
      Hugh Janes' comedy broke the box office record for advance bookings during its recent run at Chelmsford's Civic Centre.

  • Eastbourne Gazette, September 27 1995
    Four into two goes very well
    • IF the thought of grow ing old and ending you days in a home depresses you then I can recommend no better medicine than a visit to the Devonshire Park Theatre this week. The development of the relationship htween the miltary and solitary George and the wayward ex-sailor, Wally is keenly observed by Mr .Janes. He has most successfully partnered humnour with exactly the right amount of insight and pathos. I got the feeling that a good deal of fun was had putting this play together and fun is definitely what the audience gets; it's a funny play and a good script with a sprinkling of insight to give it depth.
      Anji Whimpenny

  • Slough Observer, July 28 1995
    • WATCHING Eric Sykes on stage at the Theatre Royal, Windsor is like going back 20 years to his record-breaking TV series.
      He doesn't seem to have changed at all since those domestic comedies with larger-than-life Hattie Jacques.
      And it's easy to see why he is classed as one of Britain's great comedians.
      Last week he told me he was worried about working with 'real' actors. He was almost apologetic when he described himself as 'more Vaudeville'. And yet it is his comic genius, helped by his experiences of that 'old school', which makes Hugh Janes' hilarious new play 'Two of a Kind' so special.
      Eric has an easy, natural style, a ready chuckle and superb timing which, when presented together in one package, gives you the sort of comedy performance you just don't get these days. Don't miss him!
      'Two of a Kind' is set in a retirement home, which is ruled with a tongue of iron by Matron (Carmen Silvera).
      'Inmate' Wally Wallis (Sykes), a spirited old seadog, returns from an 'illegal' trip out to find his lifelong friend Potts has died and that he is now sharing a room with an old army officer, Major George Fairbrother - meticulously played by Michael Denison.
      Saddened by Potts' death and resentful that his place has been taken by someone who wants to bring order into his life, Wally rebels, cooking a steak on stage, making full use of the contraband he has stashed away behind the wardrobe, escaping through the window to go to the pub and 'rearranging' the matron's office in the build-up to his final act when, he says, he is 'retiring out of retirement'.
      Because of Potts' death and old age there are obviously one or two poignant moments with thought-provoking lines like 'when the present is empty, the past can be a great comfort'. But you are soon lifted out of these, especially by May, a fellow inmate, played with real devilment by Dulcie Gray.
      Painfully walking on two sticks, when she is told she has to use a walking frame she retorts, 'I flatly refuse to be supported by bits of scaffolding'; and relating a visit with her daughter ('she makes me wish I had never met her father') to what used to be the chemist's, she complains to Wally that it now sells nothing but sex magazines.
      "It's a porn shop," he tells her. "What would I have to pawn at my age?" she asks.
      There are other scenes, too, when Eric Sykes almost seems to break int a comedy routine, while the last scene is well worth waiting for with Eric and Michael (or it is Ernie?l) doing a drunken song and dance act - just superb!
      Clare Brotherwood

  • Surrey Advertiser, July 14 1995
    The old 'uns are best
    • ANYONE thinking of passing on seeing Two of a Kind at the Thorndike Theatre, Leatherhead, because the stars are, to put it kindly, somewhat elderly, would be depriving themselves of a rare treat.
      Michael Dennison, Dulcie Gray and Eric Sykes may have been around for what seems to be forever, but they are far from over the hill. In fact, their technique has been honed to a high polish, the audience know what to expect of them, and the whole thing becomes a sort of family joke.
      Eric Sykes would disappoint if he did not forget a few lines and cover it all with hilarious ad-libbing. On the opening night his hearing aid stopped working and after a confidential word with the audience he had to vanish into the wings to get it fixed, leaving a highly amused Michael Dennison to hold the stage.
      Michael Dennison is at his best as the perfect gentleman, in this case a retired army officer. Dulcie Gray as always radiates The trio are joined by Carmen Silvera, famous as the cafe owner's wife in TV's Allo, Allo. Untypically, she played the strict matron of a retirement home in which this comedy by Hugh Janes is set.
      Sykes and Dennison play the odd couple sharing a room; Sykes the anarchic old seadog and Dennison the repressed retired officer. Sykes cannot forgive his new roommate for stepping all too soon into the shoes of his dead friend. Dennison cannot accept the sea dog's blithe breaking of the rules.
      It's a familiar formula, but works well here.
      Anyway, the packed first-night audience loved it.
      Jo Richardson

  • Brighton and Hove Leader, August 24 1995
    A drop of the vintage stuff
    • TAKEN at face value, the day-to-day routine of three elderly residents of an old people's home and the matron who rules the establishment with a rod of iron, sounds less than riveting.
      But that doesn't take into account superb performances from a quartet of stage veterans, whose combined ages must add up to over 300. rhe years of experience show.
      This new comedy by Hugh Janes takes a light-hearted look at old age. with a touch of poignancy to fend off accusations of ageism.
      Main inmate is ex-merchant seaman Wally Wallis (Eric Sykes in great form), a lovable rogue, who breaks all the house rules, cooking in his room and washing his steak sandwich down with a wee drop of the hard stuff from his secret store.
      When his best friend and room mate pops his clogs, Wally finds himself sharing with stiff and starchy, ex-army major George Fairbrother (Michael Denison).
      Much of the play revolves around their irreconcilable differences with Wally wildly untidy and George a stickler for routine and order.
      That they reach a rapport and mutual respect is a miracle, helped along by the coquettish May (Dulcie Gray) - and some stiff measures from Wally's store cupboard.
      May dismisses attempts by the matron (a fearsome Carmen Silvera) to persuade her to use a walking frame (or scaffolding as she puts it). It is this delightful streak of independence, carried to the extreme by Wally striking a blow for freedom, that gives the play a depth beneath the surface comedy.

  • West Sussex Gazette, July 20 1995
    Never too old for a laugh
    • USUALLY you just point Eric Sykes in the direction of the audience and leave him to it.
      He will fill any venue with laughs major and minor with his tall tales and anecdotes. This often happens even when he is in a production that does hive a proper storyline.
      I remember seeing him decades ago in Newcastle's elegant Theatre Royal with the late Jimmy Edwards in a touring production of the comedy Big Bad Mouse. All attempts at following the plot became pointless as the two ad-libbed to their hearts' content and the audience dissolved into fits of laughter.
      It was something of a surprise, therefore, to discover a decidedly disciplined Eric Sykes sticking to character and forgoing the asides in Two of a Kind, a gentle and affecting new comedy by Hugh Janes.
      He plays an old seadog, marooned in a retirement home where he rails against the authoritarian matron (played by Carmen Silvera). Matters come to a head when his room-mate, and long-time friend, dies and he is forced to share with a newcomer, a rigidly orderly former army major (Michael Denison).
      Aided by the twinkling-eyed May (Dulcie Gray) he plots his escape - but not before the audience has enjoyed a rich mix of hilarious one-liners and moments of deeply affecting poignancy.
      The matron describes her home as "a cocktail party -without the cocktails" and tells the newly-arrived major that "a nap is allowed after lunch if you can't help yourself."
      The major first meets Sykes when the buccaneer arrives in his room with a smuggled-in bit of steak. "It's Customs and Excise men dressed up as nurses in here," Sykes tells him, later describing one of the nurses as "the mafia in size 42".
      Stereotyping is avoided; the major does have a story to tell, of a life stunted by a militaristic and unfeeling father and of the agony of having a dipsomaniac wife; the matron, too, is a victim of the past and May has an insight borne of the experience of the years.
      Janes has succeeded in writing a thoroughly entertaining show, and is well served by his four-strong cast of old stagers who can still show the younger generation a thing or two about stagecraft.
      Laurence Levine

  • Western Morning News, September 6 1995
    One of a kind show you can't help liking
    • I HAD a stinking cold, my head was thumping and I was watching a comedy about a bunch of old codgers in a retirement home - just what I needed... and it was.
      Two Of A Kind is one of those light, easy comedies which make you feel better.
      A life-affirming, up-beat story of everyday elderly folk "held together by our elastic stockings" as one character says.
      Old sea dog Wally (Eric Sykes) is bereft when his long-standing cabin mate Potts dies suddenly, leaving him all at sea. His new room mate is stiffupper lip army type George - played by Michael Denison.
      Their head-on clash of personalities teaches us a lot about the need to realise that life really is too short and we should all just muck in and get on with it.
      There's not a complicated plot - just three people trying to come to terms with the realisation that they are living out their last of their days, but not wanting to rellinquish the hope of the young.
      Two Of A Kind is a celebration of those gentler times.
      Inoffensive, entertaining and a good, clean family evening out... oh, and a good remedy for the common cold!
      Su Carroll
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