'IT'S like seeing a ghost"

That overheard remark at the end of a remarkable show sums up the reaction of the audience to Jack Lane's performance in this one-man play about the life and career of Norman Wisdom.

Lane's uncannily accurate portrayal of the treasured star earned him a standing ovation from the near capacity crowd who were treated to a tour-de-force.

Wisdom was brought to life by Lane, perfectly capturing the comedian's voice and mannerisms – you could almost believe you were watching the great man himself.

The play – also written by Lane – at first focussed on Wisdom's early life, his tough upbringing, his difficult relationship with his father and the many hardships he endured. The first half ended with him enlisting in the Army as a naive bandsman, a move which proved the making of him.

After the interval, Lane concentrated on Wisdom's rise to stardom, from his first attempts to make it in showbusiness to honing his act and finally his big movie breakthrough – against a background of the difficulties of balancing his new-found fame with his family life.

The show was sprinkled with references – some of them quite subtle – to Wisdom's stage and screen act, included some polished musical numbers and, of course, there were a few "Mr Grimsdales" thrown in for good measure.

The biggest round of applause was reserved for a set-piece when Lane donned Wisdom's trademark ill-fitting suit and cloth cap for the first time, transforming him in the beloved 'Gump' character which he adopted for the rest of his career.

Wisdom of a Fool offered the audience the perfect mix of comedy and pathos – much like one of Norman's celebrated films – with more than enough to please both aficionados and those new to his work. A genuine treat for kids and kids at heart.

Andrew White