Live Review: Liverpool Echo March 2015

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Count Arthur Strong: Liverpool Playhouse

Review published Mar 17, 2015

10/10

There are two Count Arthurs Strong currently available for your viewing and listening pleasure.

One appears in a sitcom alongside Rory Kinnear where they have surreal adventures. You may have missed it, as it was scheduled at a very odd time of night.

Then there’s the Count Arthur Strong from the wireless. The easily confused, egotistical Music Hall man whose star was never bright enough to fade, tripping over words and phrases, still convinced his audience is out there.

It’s this Arthur which turned up at the Playhouse in Somebody Up There Licks Me – a shoddy clerical error – at the printers (we’re told) – which leads to that show being scrapped and something altogether more shambolic and Strong taking its place.

Steve Delaney, the man who brings the Count to life, created the character while at drama school, basing him on characters he encountered while growing up in Leeds. Judging by this show, it must have been one of the most entertaining childhoods on record.

The Count recounted the life of Rex Harris(on), complete with a medley of songs from his well-known Films “Dr No Little and My Furry Lady” – basically lyrics from the scores of both musicals sung badly (but funnily) over free-form jazz.

The duet with Renee (Liverpool’s own Terry Kilkelly) involved the touching incident where she and the Count first met, her slipping in dog mess outside his house. The moment he hosed said mess from her shoes was recreated during a performance of Somethin’ stupid. You’re reading this, s’ so it probably soundsstupid. I saw it, it was comedy genius.

Delaney has the gift Tommy Cooper possessed and many covet. He can be funny when doing very little (especially when looking pleased with himself by the side of his keyboard). His off-kilter tribute to The Beatles, complete with a trans-Atlantic Macca (“what do you mean, they’re from Liverpool? Nobody EVER mentions that!”) was also enthusiastically welcomed.

The Count is a comic creation who deserves far more than a past-yourbedtime slot on BBC One. I’m just sorry he was only here for the one night. You should have done whatever it took to bag a seat for night two. Even slip on something unpleasant outside his house. 10/10 The farce is Strong

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