Scotsman Review 2008

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Count Arthur Strong – The Man Behind the Smile
Published on 05/08/2008 09:13

PERENNIAL Fringe and Radio 4 favourite Count Arthur Strong returns with an impressive visual retrospective of his singular career. This year, Steve Delaney’s sublime creation is reflecting on his television legacy, interspersing his live bumblings and irritations with a series of clips from his 1958 debut onwards.

With a young-looking Count seamlessly spliced into footage of, among others, Dixon of Dock Green and Troughton-era Dr Who, the doddery Doncaster luvvie playing a hapless Cyberman, the implication is that his buffoonery has not been senility-induced after all, an amusing interview with Lawrence Olivier proving one in the eye for the attentive Arthur.

These digitally doctored clips are among the funniest moments of the show, suggesting there’s plenty of life in the old fool yet. As ever though, the true delight of watching Strong is hearing his mangling of English – the malapropisms and oxymorons spluttering forth as his drink-sodden synapses misfire; the confused name-dropping and furious, unwitting testimony to his own incompetence recounting his misadventure with a dead salmon. It’s here though, that the Count seems less consistent than in Fringes past, and the laughter rate suffers as a result.



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