Live Review: Mid Devon Gazette Feb 2015

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The baffling buffoonery of BBC1 star Count Arthur Strong

By Mid Devon Gazette
Posted: March 03, 2015

It was a packed house at TCAT to see the sitcom buffoon Count Arthur Strong on his current national tour. It was the biggest stage show preparation Comedy Hall has ever had, involving three sound and light technicians and a crew including tour and stage manager.

The show involved Steve Delaney as Arthur plus two supporting character actors and range of video, lighting and music cues.

The Count spent virtually two hours on stage – with dialogue broadcast from off stage at times as his eccentric and slightly mad character kept forgetting the audience was there.

A great masterclass in comedy, with madcap monologues, unsolicited rantings on random topics, forgetful dialogue and old-man confusion peppered with malapropisms and faux-pas. There were nearly 20 under-16s in the audience, and while they wouldn’t have understood many of the references to life through the 50s to the 90s, the show had plenty of slapstick moments to make it suitable for all ages – and a couple of subtle innuendoes for those with some imagination.

As well as acted scenes that fans of the radio and TV show will find familiar, there was a duet with a shopgirl from Southport (an actor in drag), a tribute to Rex Harrison on the keyboard (even though the Count continually called him Rex Harris and proved he can’t play the piano), and a tribute finale to the Beatles.

In this scene the three were dressed in costumes, with the Yoko Ono character referred to variously as Una Stubbs, Ono Yoko and Yoko Uhu; John Lennon becoming Jack Lemmon, Ringo as Dingo and the Count himself dressed in a red tunic and mimicking Paul McCartney as they sang random Beatles lyrics to a backing track while shrouded in a theatrical smoke.

The show ending was cleverly tailored as a fizz not an explosion, and was typical of what you might expect from the absent-minded veteran such as the Count.

The audience saw the Count meander off stage right, and then his silhouette walk slowly behind the 12-foot projector screen at the back of the stage and exit stage left, as the house lights slowly came up.

A poignant ending that some audience members applauded and others simply weren’t sure about, wondering if the Count would reappear to take a bow.

TCAT’s sound and light technicians handled the 27 sound and light cues brilliantly and the show was a seamless example of professional comedy that owed plenty to the crew’s BBC1 TV production.

Steve Delaney appeared in the foyer 20 minutes later to do a signing and sell a ton of merchandise from DVDs and CDs to paper masks and T-shirts.




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