You’ve probably heard of Mr Banks from Mary Poppins but less likely to know the name David Tomlinson. The Life I Lead is a one man show performed by comedian Miles Jupp about the life of the actor David Tomlinson. It’s a playful and nostalgic retelling of the human behind a character that everyone knows and loves.
The play was written by James Kettle especially for Jupp when he noticed vocal and physical similarities between the two men. These similarities are impossible to not notice and draw you in further to the stories being told.
Tomlinson certainly had stories to tell. Never leading a straightforward life, he experienced heartbreak, family issues and complex relationships, all while shooting to fame by starring in Mary Poppins and Bedknobs and Broomsticks and befriending Walt Disney on the way. As the show progresses you discover his relationship with his Napoleon obsessed father who as a solicitor did things by the book and as a English gentleman was constantly on the search for a well cooked piece of beef.
Stories flow from one to another, with Jupp making you feel at ease in his drawing room as he chats to you like an old friend. He creates a lovable and engaging Tomlinson before your eyes that you can’t help but feel so strongly for. This was certainly achieved with audible gasps and reactions (someone even called out “Oh my goodness!”) from the audience during sadder moments.
Jupp is very at ease on stage alone, a skill likely learnt from his stand-up comedy days, which is something not all actors can do as well. The fourth wall is broken instantly, and seems a little over the top to begin with but soon settles down into a natural one sided conversation with the audience.
Moving and hilarious, Jupp has you laughing one minute and with a lump in your throat the next. You can’t help but fall in love with the classic British gentleman as he takes you on his journey.