Live Review: The Mail On Sunday April 2017

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Count Arthur Strong – Richmond Theatre, London
by Mark Wareham
No matter how often you’ve heard Count Arthur Strong’s mangled dulcets on Radio 4, nothing quite compares with the sight of the bumbling old fool in the flesh.  Not that he appears on stage at all for the first chunk of his new show, The Sound Of Mucus (****, on tour until June 23).
After five minutes of chaotic noises off, Arthur stumbles on only for the curtain to get stuck.  A lengthy sequence follows in which we see him only from the knees down, so it’s a full quarter of an hour before we finally clap eyes on Steve Delaney’s perma-deluded, immaculately observed variety stalwart.
Arthur is at his most sublime when in a state of heightened obliviousness, constantly interrupting himself and railing at his faltering powers.  ‘It’s near enough, isn’t it? What do you want, blood?’  It’s at moments like this that the character takes on a delirious, Beckettian quality.
After wandering up several byways, taking in a genius Michael Caine impression – ‘You were only supposed to blow Diana Dors up’ – and ideas for TV programmes such as I’ll Cook, You Cook, It’s Not My Turn, the show eventually reaches its Sound Of Music finale, all coming together as the Count warbles ‘I am 70 going on 80’.  The Sound Of Mucus is several senior moments wrapped into one elongated omnishambles. Losing the plot has never been so much fun.



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