Independent Review: Komedia Bath InterviewThis entry was posted in News, Press on .
by Alice Jones Thursday 06 March 2014
“Have you actually read the book? You’re asking me a lot of questions about it.” This was, quite obviously, no ordinary literature festival talk. How could it be, when the author in question was Count Arthur Strong?
Strong, a self-regarding, out-of-work actor from Doncaster is the comic creation of Steve Delaney. So it came to pass that Strong was being interviewed, in character, at The Independent Bath Literature Festival. Rather than appear at the Guildhall, the festival’s rarefied central venue, he took to the stage at the Komedia, a wonderfully seamy, red-lit comedy club.
Over the course of the hour, he tried to raffle off his bookmark, sang a tuneless song about Doncaster and read badly from his masterwork, breaking off one extract midway through (“I’m not reading anymore, you’ll have to go and buy it.”) and offering another snippet of just two sentences. In contrast to the usual faux chumminess between chair and guest at book festivals, he ribbed his questioner, the festival’s artistic director Viv Groskop, relentlessly.
When invited to share well-worn anecdotes, he either made them up (claiming to have been in a wartime band with Glenn Miller, Jeff Beck and Keith Moon, “or near enough”) or became oddly vague. “One of my great acting roles was one of the kings in one of the plays by, I think it was, Shakespeare. They said it was a tour de france.” It was surreal, hilarious, and an antidote to the sales-driven to-and-fro of most book festival talks.