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Review: The Life I Lead, at Park Theatre

Miles Jupp stars as David Tomlinson in laugh-out-loud one-man show about the life of highly respected English character actor

21 March, 2019 — By Michael Stewart

Miles Jupp as David Tomlinson in The Life I Lead. Photo: Piers Foley

DAVID Tomlinson was a highly respected English character actor and doyen of British cinema. If you needed an “upper-class twit” or “professional idiot”, he was your man. He is perhaps best known as George Banks, the head of the Banks family in Disney’s Mary Poppins.

Miles Jupp in The Life I Lead is Tomlinson personified. He catches his decent stiff-upper-lip Englishness and his witty twittishness to perfection in this one-man show written by James Kettle.

Jupp enters Lee Newby’s set of sky blue brilliance with white puffy clouds and white furnishings. Is he in heaven’s waiting room? Or maybe just Hollywood. Perhaps they’re the same. He then relates the highlights and low points of his life; his tussles with his cold, distant, eccentric father whom the family had to call CST, the suicide/murder of his first wife who jumped with her two sons from a New York hotel window, his crash-landing of his plane during the war and the fraught relationship with his severely autistic son who often bit him like a dog.

But this show is far from depressing; it is laugh-out-loud funny and full of sly wit. A particular delight is his impersonation of a fake American agent; to get out of unwanted offers on the phone he constantly switches voices between himself and a cheesy Darryl F Zanuck-type agent. Directed by Didi Hopkins and Selina Cadell, it uplifts the spirit as well as enriching it.

Until March 30
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