"A rumpled Peter O'Toole wears the role as if it were a second skin. His mood of sardonic melancholia rises to Beckettian heights"*
Cult play based on the life of the eponymous womanising, gambling alcoholic, which premiered at the Old Vic in 1989, and was revived with the original cast after Bernard's death.
Originally wanting to write something about Soho, Keith Waterhouse produced a text based on Bernard's own journalistic writings, and took for his title the phrase printed in lieu of Bernard's "Low Life" Spectator column, whenever he was in too much of a state to write it.
Directed by Ned Sherrin, and starring Peter O'Toole (and later Tom Conti and James Bolam) the plot is essentially a night in the life of Bernard who, locked in his perpetual watering hole - The Coach and Horses - waxes lyrical about his life and times.
"Chain-smoking, he totters gamely around. His face remains as inscrutable as a code, his eyes are hooded and O'Toole's voice, now an instrument of infinite,expressive variety, brings Bernard's complaining tones back to life with a light comic touch."*
* Quotes taken from Evening Standard