By Jeremy Miles
Imagine the talentless secret love child of the Rev William Spooner and Mrs Malaprop misguidedly following a career in mid 20th century light entertainment.
Add a drink problem and the onset of dementia and you’re getting close to the shambolic nightmare that is self-styled showbiz legend Count Arthur Strong.
That Steve Delaney’s extraordinary creation is a work of near comic genius is without doubt. A long-time favourite at the Edinburgh Fringe and the subject of an award-winning BBC Radio 4 show, Strong is a superb piece of characterisation.
A deluded raconteur, convinced that his career has been hijacked by idiots, Strong is intent on reminding his audience of what could and should have been.
At times this latest show proves painfully funny as he stumbles through his past, mangling meanings and memories along the way. “They tried to make me a goat-scrape” he wails.
In Strong’s befuddled world Pam Ayres goes beserk over being fobbed off in the hospitality room with half a Fray Bentos pie, The South Bank Show is presented by Melvyn Hayes and Melvyn Bragg was in “Summer Holocaust” with Cliff and Una. Meanwhile “Sir Laurence of Olivier” is taking notes from Dora Bryan.
Inspired certainly, but also a little scary. I’ve actually met people like this.