Beyond The Fringe

From Academic Kids

Beyond The Fringe was a British comedy show written and performed by Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller. It played in Britain's West End and in New York's Broadway in the early 1960s.

The show was created by John Basset an associate producer for the 1960 Edinburgh Festival with the aim of creating a comedy revue that would improve on the student revues that appeared on the 'Fringe', hence the title. Basset's first recruit was Moore who recommended Bennett who in turn suggested Miller who brought in Cook.

The show ran in London in 1961 and in New York with the original cast in 1962. It had a drastic effect on the careers of Bennett and Miller who had been preparing for lives in academia and medicine. The show continued in New York with most of the original cast until 1964 while the London version continued with a different cast until 1966. Cook and Moore revived some of the sketches on their later television and stage shows most famously the two hander 'One Leg Too Few' in which Cook played a Theatre Producer auditioning a one legged Moore for the part of Tarzan.

As with the established comedy review it was a series of satirical sketches and musical pieces using a minimal set looking at events of the day. It effectively represented the views and disappointments of the first generation of British people to grow up after the war and gave voice to a sense of the loss of national purpose with the end of Empire. Although all the cast contributed material the most often quoted pieces were those by Cook many of which had appeared before in his Cambridge Footlights revues. The show broke new ground with Peter Cook's impression of then Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.

Some have credited it with the rise of the Satire Boom of the late 1960s. Without it there may not have been any That Was The Week That Was or Private Eye magazine.

Quotation from the show (said by Army Major to soldier): "I want you to lay down your life, Perkins. We need a futile gesture at this stage. It will raise the whole tone of the war."

Peter Cook as 'E.L.Wisty' 'Yes, I could have been a Judge but I never had the Latin'.

Cook as Macmillan recounting a summit meeting with President Kennedy 'We talked of many things, including Great Britain's position in the world as some kind of honest broker. I agreed with him when he said no nation could be more honest, and he agreed with me when I chaffed him and said no nation could be broker.'

Cook to Moore in 'One Leg Too Few' 'I've got nothing against your right leg. Unfortunately neither do you.'


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