Fringe Review Metro, 9th August, 2002This entry was posted in News, Press on .
Laughter is a personal business, writes Dominic Maxwell. So it’s in the interests of offering a balanced view that I report that Count Arthur Strong’s Forgotten Egypt is a work of comic genius, Britain’s greatest contribution to world culture since cat’s eyes or The Beatles – and also that Count Arthur tends to leave some of his audience stone-temple cold.
There are no concessions to the audience – you either get it or you don’t. But this is surely the most fully formed comic character since Alan Partridge: a creaky, ill-tempered actor with a booze problem, poor syntax, delusions of grandeur and an on-off relationship with reality.
No light is shed on Count Arthur’s precarious psychological state, nor should it be – it is this opacity that gives the act its charge.
Steve Delaney is literally possessed by his character, performing at an extraordinary depth of characterisation as he bakes falafels, bawls out his sound girl, valiantly struggles to articulate the word ‘articulation’.
Forgotten Egypt offers a thrilling but accessible sense of the bizarre, rooted in entertainment culture and some incredibly funny set-pieces.
It reprises a little of his equally brilliant previous show (with comic Terry Titter) You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet, but with at least two new Count Arthur classics: the Rex Harrison medley and the routine with Little Tiny King Tut, the mummified ventriloquist’s doll.
It’s too idiosyncratic to be perfect, but who cares. This is the real deal, comedy in thrall to nothing except its own glorious inventiveness.