Selected dates until 26 February at the Coach and Horses, 29 Greek Street, London W1D 5DH
Originally performed in 1989 by Peter O’Toole in the eponymous role, Keith Waterhouse’s play tells the tale of real-life journalist and bon vivant, Jeffrey Bernard, who has woken up, in the middle of the night, in the gents’ toilets of the Coach and Horses in the heart of London’s Soho. In this 2024 adaptation, director James Hillier brings the audience to Jeffrey, setting this one-man tour de force in the Greek Street pub. And it’s a genius touch.
We’re invited into Bernard’s world of carousing, gambling and failed marriages. And how brilliantly it’s done by Robert Bathurst. Wandering around the pub, helping himself to countless vodkas from behind the bar while waiting for landlord Norman, returning to an apparently never-ending supply of cigarettes from ‘his’ table, whilst regaling us of his tales of loves and losses, Bathurst’s performance is pitch perfect. And beautifully slurred. At times pathetic, at times hilarious, the strength of Bathurst’s delivery and rapport with the audience meant that I never wanted Norman to open up to allow Bernard to go home.
Because the pub has to close to its regulars, there are only performances on Sundays and Mondays throughout February - plus one special midnight performance on Saturday the 17th – so I’d urge you to buy a ticket. It’s not the cheapest ‘pub theatre’ ticket around, but we’re keeping the next generation of Jeffrey’s from their regular drinking hole!