Live Review: Exeter Echo Feb 2015

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February 26, 2015

By Chris Hallam

Count Arthur Strong: Somebody Up There Licks Me

Corn Exchange, Exeter

Muddled, unrehearsed, confused and with a pompous elderly star frequently losing his temper with his audience, everything’s as it should be in this latest show from ageing show business and variety act veteran Count Arthur Strong.

For Strong is the alter ego of comedian Steve Delaney and any confusion on the part of the star (and there is plenty) is quite deliberate. A comedy veteran himself now, Steve has been playing the character on stage, radio and TV, for decades, the second series of his excellent sitcom co-starring Rory Kinnear, just ending on the Beeb last week.

Spluttering, pompous, prone to coughing and frequently losing his temper with both his floor manager (Terry Kilkelly, who also plays Strong’s old flame Renee) and lighting engineer (Dave Plimmer) , it is Strong’s tendency to mix up words in endlessly inventive malapropisms which provides much of the humour in the show.

In addition, we get to see the Count attempting to deliver a ventriloquist’s act (typically, the puppet Sulky Monkey refuses to talk and appears to lose its temper with its master), a misfiring tribute the Beatles featuring only two of the Fab Four and one Yoko and the Count’s unique interpretation of the Creation legend featuring Alan and Evelyn in the Garden of Edam, which he ends up confusing with the story of Little Red Riding Hood.

Having perfected the character over thirty years, Steve Delaney is now no longer dramatically younger than the Count is presumably supposed to be himself. But rest assured, in Count Arthur Strong he has created a comedy character as enduring as Steve Coogan’s Alan Partridge and whether appearing on stage, radio or TV, he remains very funny.

Chris Hallam



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