Adrian Edmondson

Adrian Edmondson

Date of birth: 24-01-1957
The son of an armed forces teacher, Edmondson attended Yorkshire’s Pocklington School, before going on to study drama at Manchester University, where he met Rik Mayall and formed the partnership that was to become Twentieth Century Coyote. The pair took a show to the Edinburgh Festival in 1977 and on to London’s fledgling alternative comedy scene at the Comedy Store Comic Strip.

The comedians from that latter venue went on to make The Comic Strip Presents shows for the new Channel 4, and Edmondson starred in their 1985 feature film Supergrass.

That year, he also married fellow Comic Strip performer Jennifer Saunders and the couple now have three children: Eleanor, Beatrice and Freya.

His most famous role is of Vyvyan in The Young Ones, written by co-star Mayall, Ben Elton and Lise Mayer. And in 1983, Adrian toured with Mayall in Kevin Turvey and The Bastard Squad, and their double act The Dangerous Brothers was also a regular strand of Saturday Night Live.

Other credits with Mayall include Filthy, Rich and Catflap, three series of Bottom and the subsequent live tour and in 1991 appeared in the West End production of Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot.

And solo he appeared in Lawrence Marks and Maurice Gran's Snakes and Ladders, Doctors and Nurses and Jonathan Creek. In 2005, he joined the cast of hospital drama Holby City.

In 1996, he wrote his first – and so far only – novel The Gobbler. And he has directed pop videos for The Pogues’s Fiesta, Zodiac Mindwarp’s Prime Mover and 10,000 Maniacs’ Like The Weather.

He has more latterly been touring the UK with his band The Bad Shepherds; and in 2014 appeared in the West End play Neville's Island.

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Bits Of Me Are Falling Apart, starring Adrian Edmondson

Review by Steve Bennett at the Soho Thearte

He may not be a Young One any more, but in middle-age Adrian Edmondson seems to be reduced to a listless, self-pitying whinge.

At least that’s the tone of Bits Of Me Are Falling Apart, taken from William Leith’s 2009 book of the same name. It was described at the time as being like an ‘Izzardesque, expertly paced stand-up routine’ by Time Out magazine, so you can see why the Soho Theatre the home of ambitious comedy, might want to adapt it. But there’s not much evidence of vigour or humour here.

The grumbles of Edmondson’s unnamed character are familiar, repeated with scant wit or insight and engendering little empathy for a middle-class architect of his first-world problems.

He’s a writer who squandered his money in his youth so gripes about having missed the boat on soaring property prices. Becoming a recent father seems to have been a casual move, it feels more like a plot device to hang a monologue on than a real emotional tie. He talks a lot about the ‘death of love’, but we never really feel it.

Most writers have indulged their mid-life introspection at one point or another, but either Willaim Leith’s original, or this adaptation by Edmondson and the Soho’s artistic director Steve Marmion, just hits over-familiar ideas.

Physically he frets about his ailing body, from the suspect mole on his shoulder to the dodgy knee, and tries to fight back against the years by eating quinoa flakes and doing Pilates.

The piece’s literary roots are obvious, which makes for largely flat theatre, redeemed only by Lily Arnold’s inventive staging, with plastic toys suspended from the ceiling, amusingly standing in for adult equivalents.

But linguistic flourishes are few and far between as Edmondson’s character mulls his dreary existence. Middle age is ‘smiling through with other divorced dads in a car park,’ he wearily concludes.

He recalls witnessing a dying fish flapping about, ineffectually and with decreasing vigour. How much more do you need your metaphors signposted? The ‘falling apart’ is supposed to emotional as well as physical, as if you haven’t guessed, but any anguish is muted. There are moments when the bleakness is ramped up, mulling on his grandparents’ deaths from the likes of emphysema and a stroke, but  Edmondson’s weary amiability knocks the edge off some of these darker existential musings. 

Throughout the 70 minutes, he delivers a muted performance. No one’s expecting Vyvyan, but there’s little for him to sink his teeth into, and the resigned calmness does nothing to add either drama or strong comic counterpoints, both of which are much-needed.

Middle-age is here portrayed as a mildly depressing wasting away, as the excitement of each new youthful experience subsides under each new reminder of mortality. But for much of the monologue you’ll wish Edmondson’s character just to get over himself and stop his dull, entitled carping.

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Published: 10 Nov 2016

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