At the little theatrical haven which is the Jermyn Street Theatre, we arrived on a sunny Saturday afternoon to see a musical comedian play a musical comedian - pianist and conductor (as well as the aforementioned comedian), Rainer Hersch play Danish pianist, conductor and comedian Victor Borge.
The afternoon started well - the lady in the box office offered to move us from the leg-room missing Row B to the front row where I could sprawl. That's a major plus for Jermyn Street Theatre!
We were concerned that Hersch himself was selling programmes and drinks from a tiny cupboard as he had the triangular beard and slightly mad hair one might expect from such an artist (although that is of course shameless stereotyping). Fortunately he wasn't. The real Rainer Hersch appeared on stage a few minutes later.
Hersch began his one man show as Borge - with a low, slow and soft Germanic-sounding accent and face lowered in towards his neck slightly - (he slipped in and out of this to his normal self and this was how we knew he was now Borge again).
He began to tell the story of Borge, whose career spanned from the 1920s to the 90s and who many in the audience remembered from their childhood in the 50s and 60s.
His technique was to use his piano-playing to comic effect. One of his famous jokes was, "I only know two pieces; one is 'Clair de Lune' and the other one isn't." He also had a famous routine where he replaced punctuation marks in a story with amusing vocal noises - this was how he made his big break in America.
Hersch's story of Borge was moving as well as funny - Borge was a Jew who was lucky enough to be out of the country when the Nazis began rounding up his fellow Jews, and eventually was able to move well out of the way to America.There was also a lovely description of how Hersch, who had first heard of Borge when being compared to him, actually met with this famous man, albeit briefly.
Piano-playing, jokes, a good story and lots of fun, this show is well worth seeing before it ends on 31st March 2012.
As Hersch said, there isn't a lot of money available for advertising this one man show, so if you do go, make sure to tell your friends how good it is. I certainly haven't laughed as much in a long time.