Manchester Comedy Festival: Boddingtons Dream Tent, Manchester, 1993
Lee Evans: Same World, Different Planet: Lyric Theatre, London, 1996
Musical: The Producers: Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, 2006
Play: The Dumb Waiter: Trafalgar Studios, London, 2007
Lee Evans: Roadrunner (work in progress): The Sands Centre, Carlisle, 2011
Lee Evans: Monsters (work in progress): The Sands Centre, Carlisle, 2014
Lee Evans is one of the greatest visual comedians Britain has ever produced. I first saw him perform at the Manchester Comedy Festival in 1993 where he shared a bill with Jeff Green. Green with his laidback style complemented Evans manic nervous energy perfectly.
I next saw Evans in the London’s West End with his solo show Same World, Different Planet in 1996. The incredible comic talent came into its own in his performance and he was masterful at facial contortions and silly walks to emphasise the punchline of every joke. The trademark energetic performer was exhaustively bounding around the stage sweating up a storm with the force of a hyperactive child. There are few acts I have seen who have ever worked so hard to make an audience laugh.
Evans appeared in two theatrical productions that I attended. He starred with Nathan Lane in the stage production of Mel Brooks’ classic comedy film The Producers at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane playing Leo Bloom, a mild-mannered accountant prone to panic attacks. I also saw him appear opposite Jason Isaacs in the play The Dumb Waiter written by Harold Pinter playing one of two hit men who are holed-up in a dingy, disused basement kitchen, waiting to be sent out on their next job. In both shows, he gave detailed, intense and humorous performances.
In 2011 and 2014, Evans played two work-in-progress shows for his arena tours Roadrunner and Monsters. The warm-up shows were in Carlisle and I attended both. Once again, he effortlessly and hugely entertained the packed audience and at the end of the Monsters performance in 2014, I went to the front of the stage where he was meeting his audience. He hugged me and seemed genuinely overwhelmed by the love of the crowd. Shortly after the Monsters tour in 2014, he announced on Jonathan Ross’s chat show on television that he was to retire from comedy to spend more time with his family. I am blessed to have been able to see the great comedian and actor on stage so many times.