Reviewer: Matt Forrest
Writer and comedian Steve Delany has been performing as his alter ego Count Arthur Strong for well over 20 years now. Despite the Count’s failed attempts to crack the acting world, and his career dying on its arse, this comedic creation seems to go from strength to strength with several radio programmes, his very own BBC sitcom, numerous Edinburgh Fringe performances and sell out shows, it would appear the Count’s bank balance is becoming stronger and stronger by the day.
The Count comes to The Lowry with Count Arthur Strong: Is Alive and Unplugged. He is flying solo tonight, arriving on stage sporting his trademark hat and glasses combo, to a rousing response from the audience. Strong has developed a solid fan base that has fallen in love with this pompous, grandiose ‘old ham’, who seemingly cannot string a coherent sentence together.
The first half opens with an amusing, if shambolic, version of The Generation Game Theme Tune. This moves into a routine about Strong’s imaginary friendship with the late Bruce Forsyth. In addition, there is a story of Strong being locked in the toilet of a local supermarket. The first half closes with Strong’s bizarre but brillione-man man retelling of The Last Supper as a 21st birthday party. Despite some of the routines being slightly laboured, this is harmless, inane fun. No smut or profanity: just silly gags delivered by a comic fully in tune with his character. Delaney deserves a great deal of praise for his turn as Strong, even if at times the material doesn’t quite hit the mark.
Following the interval, the show’s material improves a great deal with routines that include one of the most memorable episodes of Jackanory since Rik Mayall got his hands-on George’s Marvellous Medicine, and we have the introduction of Charlie; a ventriloquist’s dummy who is certainly smarter than his master. All this is broken up by a rare screening of 1950’s Strong classic: ‘The Curse of the Space Mummies from Outer Space’, a demonstration of the Count’s limited acting abilities and a hilarious send up of the B movies of this era.
Overall this is an entertaining, silly, fun evening out that doesn’t always deliver, but certainly raises more than a smile or two. If you’re a fan of the Count then you’ll love it, however, anyone coming cold to it may need a little bit of convincing, but once you get the measure of the show just sit back and let the absurdity wash over you.
Reviewed on 13May 2018 | Image: Contributed