Live Review: Mail On Sunday 2024

Leicester Square Theatre 10/03/2024 . Mail On Sunday review by Mark Wareham.

4stars

A Count Arthur Strong performance is that rare and wondrous thing in comedy… two hours of constant delight, with no agenda, no point-scoring and often no clue as to what’s occurring. The trilby-hatted Count (Steve Delaney) is a meandering mess of a Variety throwback, permanently bamboozled, continually digressing. Despite the brilliance of his radio and, to a lesser extent, TV work, the live arena is where he truly excels. For 20 years he has shuffled onstage, mangling his vowels, spluttering spoonerisms and muttering malapropisms. But now it’s time to say farewell. Or is it? ‘I will be carrying on for an as yet unspecified number of farewell tours’ he declares. Such is his cult following, he could carry on for ages with no end in sight much like one of his rambling anecdotes that go on the wildest of goose chases by way of a shaggy dog story. When the Count works up a stream of befuddlement, exasperatedly berating himself — ‘As I was saying, before I so rudely interrupted myself..’ it’s hard to imagine a more ridiculous sight in all of showbusiness. And it’s all so deliriously silly. You want jokes? ‘I’m gender- fluid… as long as it can be wiped up!’ Dancing? Here he is, throwing demented shapes to The Prodigy. Songs? Block your ears. A world first? How about puppets recreating the final performance by The Beatles… if only the Count could remember whether he’s supposed to be John or Paul. At times it’s hard to keep up. Hang on. Steve Delaney is playing the Count, who is playing Larry Olivier, who is playing an unspecified British monarch, who is plucking the theme from Steptoe And Son on his banjo… How did we get here again? No matter. Like the Count, we’ve already forgotten.

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