Ray Peacock & Son

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

There’s a lot of comic potential in the blunt, unreconstructed flat-capped Yorkshireman that is Ray Peacock – even if it’s not fully realised here.

The show is a bit too shambolic – by design, I hasten to add – that it overshadows the characters at its core. You are too busy distracted by the big, chaotic spectacle unfolding, or perhaps unravelling, in front of you to connect too much with the people doing it.

That said, there is plenty to enjoy in those set pieces that ensures there’s never a dull moment, even when the audience is as small and self-conscious as tonight.

The bluff Peacock is set in his ways, full of distain for the middle-class arty types who throng Edinburgh yet determined for a slice of their attention. Like them, he wants to be blasphemous, he wants a laptop presentation in his show, and he secretly wants their acceptance even though he hates anything he considers intellectual - probably because he doesn’t understand it.

In Peacock, comedian Ian Boldsworth has created a well-rounded character, both figuratively and in his actual figure. But he also speaks as he finds – he can sound like a no-nonsense Sun editorial sometimes - which inevitably leads to some near-the-knuckle, and un-PC, comments spat in the direction of the audience or, more likely, to his hapless, gormless teenage son, Darren.

Andrew Lawrence fills this awkward, put-upon role perfectly. He encapsulates the mentality of a victim who still allows some hope to flourish despite his father’s overbearing nature. More importantly, he has a brilliant sense of comic timing.

Isy Suttie also makes an appearance as a posh actress type, in from another Fringes show and representing everything Peacock hates and envies.

Yet for all these well-defined characters, this is essentially a piece of broad Knockabout fun, all stupid costumes, failed song-and-dance numbers, slapstick stunts and intense pantomime bickering. It tries to appeal to the lowbrow and the middlebrow at once, with some, if not total, success.

Peacock laces the script with Fringe in-jokes to amuse the cognoscenti, and his propensity for saying things he oughtn’t is, at its best, reminiscent of Ricky Gervais’s style.

Yet for all the effort that’s clearly been lavished on to this mostly amusing fare, there is a missing X-factor that would elevate it into a show of substance rather than a loose collection of stuff that happens.

Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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