Naturally Insane! The Life of Dan Leno

Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds is delighted to welcome Heritage Theatre with a production of a new play written and directed by David Slattery-Christie charting the life and times of a legendary music-hall comedian: Naturally Insane! The Life of Dan Leno, starring Steve Royle with special guest star Roy Hudd, OBE (Sun 26 Apr).

Set in Camberwell Asylum in the last weeks of Dan Leno’s life, we join him in his private room, along with his wife Lydia and his brother Henry, as he reflects on his life and career. He is visited by Herbert Beerbohm Tree to discuss Shakespeare while Nurse and physician Doctor Savage try to make sense of Dan and his condition. It is in turns sad, funny and poignant and will make you laugh out loud with music-hall songs which are instantly recognisable.

In the title role as Dan Leno is Steve Royle, who has previously appeared in Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights, Max & Paddy and Stand-up Britain; he also has his own weekly show on BBC Radio Lancashire. For over 12 years Steve could be found in the guise of “Mad Edgar” the court jester at Camelot theme park where he presented over 2000 “Crazy Juggling Shows”. He has also supported both Peter Kay and Dave Spikey on tour and was voted Entertainer of the Year at the recent Red Rose Awards.

In a special guest appearance as Herbert Beerbohm Tree is Roy Hudd, OBE. Another legendary performer in his own right, Roy has enjoyed over 60 years in show business and shows no signs of slowing down. He has worked in radio (The News Huddlines, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy); television (Coronation Street, The Quest); and on stage (Oliver!, The Wizard of Oz). Roy is also prolific author and authority on music hall entertainment and no stranger to Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds either, having performed in the title role of Goodnight Mister Tom in 2018, and presenting his one-man music hall tribute show as the last show before the 2007 restoration works began.

Dan Leno was the superstar of the Victorian music-halls and the annual pantomimes at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in London’s West End. He died tragically young at only 43 in 1904 but his legacy lives on to this day. He inspired people like Stan Laurel, Charlie Chaplin and his influence and style was picked up by the likes of Norman Evans and Les Dawson and ripples through to the present day with comedian Peter Kay. Following this performance there will be a short interval and then Roy Hudd, who is President of the British Music Hall Society will give a talk about Dan Leno and his legacy.

Naturally Insane! The Life of Dan Leno is at Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds for one night only, Sun 26 Apr at 7.30pm. Tickets are on sale via the Box Office, call 01284 769505, book online at www.theatreroyal.org or visit the theatre in person.