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Phill Jupitus: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Julian Hall

Just up the road, and three hours before this show, Phill Jupitus delves into his past with a revival of his Porky the Poet persona. Meanwhile, his  show here at The Stand is coyly described: ‘U Boat Captain, Welsh porn star, Dutch roadie or noted broadcaster and comedian? Like Camberwick Green, you're never sure who will be coming out of the box..’

This does at least hint that it is going to be a character show but not how it will be delivered (via audience questions) and that it will rely, to some extent, on Jupitus’s tried-and-tested improvisation skills.

It’s not all 100 per cent improvised. For example he could anticipate that someone was always going to ask al Jupitus hologram from the future whether the trams were running and what become of Boris Johnson.

Yes, Jupitus dies in 2052 and is brought to us tonight via the latest in recreational technology. He is preceeded by Kurt Schiffer, dead U-Boat captain and Vernon Hersche-Harley, dead luvvie.

The format is simple, they are each introduced by a card bearing their birth and death dates, and are welcomed on to the stage to take our questions. After a while, we realise that what seems like an introductory conceit is going to be a continuous premise.

It’s either a lazy or a slightly fresher way to serve up some character work, but the gamble can only be as successful as the lines within. Jupitus is too experienced an improviser to get it badly wrong, of course, but the results inevitably vary in their efficacy.

Kurt Schiffer met his East End wife Doreen because she was playing piano in his father’s sandwich shop in Hamburg, a shop that was set up to break the monotony of the city’s beer halls and sex shops. It’s a tickling yarn and so much more effective than, for example, Shciffer’s escape with his U-Boat crew to the Caribbean and then to Dorset, both times having to pretend they were natives.

Pipe-chomping thespian Vernon, meanwhile, has plenty of cultural references to draw on and gets laughs from underhand slights at the acting skills of Jim Carrey and Shane Ritchie. But, he also weaves a fairly decent back-story, prompted by some of the questions on his career.  

His bon viveur bravado extends to amusing takes on playing roles that many would consider beneath them, and a novel way of using Babestation to his own advantage.

Although Phill Jupitus from the future ends the show in an indulgent way, truth is we have indulged him willingly for the most part, in spite of lingering reservations.

Review date: 12 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Julian Hall
Reviewed at: Stand 1

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