Live Review: The Herald Scotland

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Tuesday 10 March 2015

by Lorraine Wilson


Steve Delaney’s journey to commercial success with his titfer-topped creation has been almost as lengthy as the Count’s showbusiness career itself.

This is the first tour following the much-improved second TV series, Count Arthur Strong, and consequently attracted a crowd that was more familiar with the slightly softer version of Arthur, as seen in the context of Bulent’s Cafe, as opposed to the delusional curmudgeon with a penchant for a tipple and cut-price meat in the Radio 4 series. There’s even a pre-teen lookalike, complete with hat, glasses, and bow tie…

The show has a warm variety feel with the involvement of stooges, a bit of drag, ventriloquism, and a song or two. Delaney’s observation of variety is superb, using Arthur as his channel to pay tribute to family entertainers of the past.

Fans of the BBC One show are clearly unfamiliar with the relationship between Arthur and Malcolm, his radio whipping boy, but when TV sidekick Eggy appears he’s greeted with cheers, even though tonight he isn’t Eggy. So there’s an element of transition in what’s happening to the old fella and it left some of the audience as confused as Arthur himself.

There’s never really been a place for double entendre in Arthur’s world, so a couple of jokes that came if not from the blue book certainly from the off-white book sat uncomfortably. Imagine Eric Morecambe swearing.

However, during the moments when Delaney is standing centre stage in the spotlight as Arthur the raconteur, his absolute immersion in Arthur is a wonderful thing to experience. Every eyebrow twitch, befuddled expression, and frustrated outburst feels fresh and bizarrely real. No-one can grudge Delaney the success that Arthur has always desired.



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