The Stage Review 2008

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Count Arthur Strong – The Man Behind the Smile
The Assembly Rooms

Reviewed by Ollie Wilson

Count Arthur Strong has become the stuff of character comedy folklore – like Barry Humphries’ Dame Edna Everage and Steve Coogan’s Alan Partridge. Steve Delaney has developed the pompous character remarkably over the years, penning dozens of hours of material to serve his frequent Radio 4 series and regular Edinburgh and other shows. The biggest change, perhaps, is that Count Arthur’s befuddled inebriation is now augmented by the onset of dementia, daubing him a doubly tragic figure.

He is at his shambolically most funny in this show, with a coathanger trailing his jacket, one shoe missing and a torrent of nonsensical, mixed metaphors and wrongly-melded words issuing from his mealy mouth. Count Arthur is in celebratory mood with a self-congratulatory show to chalk up his half-century in showbusiness.

The highlights are the clips of former triumphs – how he insulted Laurence Olivier (“Lawrence of Arabia or Laurence of Olivia” as the Count recalled the great thespian), his appearance as a cyberman in a classic episode of Doctor Who and, most amusingly, his highly inappropriate comments on the pilot of Ask the Family.

It is hilarious stuff – a masterclass in character comedy.



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