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Monday, 30 April 2012

There's a clown in the sky

Hancock's Last Half Hour.

The title tells all. Barricaded in his Sydney hotel bedroom with plentiful stocks of vodka, the lad from East Cheam casts a bleary eye over his wrecked career and marriages before swallowing the last handful of pills. 

Richard Briars plays the doomed comedian in the BBC Radio adaptation of Heathcote Williams'  one man play. A play that takes us into the soul of the troubled genius who was Tony Hancock.

The play is basically a one act monologue with the audience placed as a fly on the wall in Tony Hancock's room on that fateful day in 1968 when the comedian followed up a few bottles of vodka with that last handful of pills. It's powerful stuff and Briars, known for his light comedy roles, is a revelation in this powerful role. The actors voice is so well known to British ears and yet as soon as he speaks he becomes the lad himself, Tony Hancock. 


a clown is essentially a solitary man

  It's a tragic story with very little light and slowly we enter a world of madness as a drunken and drugged Hancock babbles on at random, every now and then offering up insightful nuggets of comedy. He's become a pathetic figure, bitter at an audience he feels failed to allow him to grow creatively. 


i laugh to hide my sadness


The play is available for the next seven days at the Radio Four Extra website HERE and if, like me, you are a fan of Hancock then this will delight you, and ultimately break your heart...powerful stuff indeed.


Hancock committed suicide, by overdose, in Sydney, on 24 June 1968. He was found dead in his Bellevue Hill apartment with an empty vodka bottle by his right hand and amphetamines by his left. In one of his suicide notes he wrote: "Things just seemed to go too wrong too many times"

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