Danny Robins new play End of the Pier is at times very funny, it touches on some important issues but I'm not sure it fully does them justice and here's why.
First a bit about the play. It's set in Blackpool where former 80s comic and household name Bobby (Les Dennis) gets by on pantomimes and summer seasons having fallen spectacularly from grace.
His son Mike (Blake Harrison) is a successful comedian and about to record a second TV series. His fiancé Jenna (Tala Gouveia) is high up in the BBC and expecting their first child.
Mike turns up on father's doorstep looking for help after an incident at his stag do threatens his career.
The play explores changing attitudes to comedy, what is cruel and discriminatory and what is a joke.
Kicks off in style
It kicks off in good style with Bobby watching Mike on TV, Harrison simultaneously performing the stand-up routine. It's a good 'show' with plenty of laughs.
Then the action moves to Bobby's house where he's wounded man but nonetheless can't resist a 'dad' joke - the play is amusingly peppered with them.
However, are presented with eye-rolling stereotypes: Bobby the northerner, representing the downtrodden, 'if you don't laugh you'll cry' working classes and Mike the metropolitan middle-class elite drinking fancy coffee. When his fiancé turns up she can't wait to point out there isn't 'even a Pret' in Blackpool.
All too familiar territory
The play treads all too familiar territory: Southern liberals vs narrow-minded northerners. Affluent vs poor.
The question of what is acceptable humour is an interesting one but the arguments between Bobby and Mike get recycled at regular intervals without adding much that is new.
When Mike hits meltdown revealing an ugly, bigoted personality, it is such an about turn it isn't convincing. In fact, it feels overly contrived to make the rest of the plot stand up.
What makes the second half
What makes the second half is another stand-up routine this time by a Bangladeshi immigrant and wannabe comic Mohammed (Nitin Ganatra). It is clever, brilliantly funny and powerful exposé of British attitudes.
It is so good it serves to make the rest of the play feel a little clumsy despite its witty one-liners and amusing Dad jokes.
End of the Pier will have you laughing and makes some important points but it is let down by lazy stereotypes and a lack of subtlety.
It is two hours and 15 minutes including an interval and is at the Park Theatre until August 11.