Milo McCabe: The Unflappable Troy Hawke | Review by Jay Richardson
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Milo McCabe: The Unflappable Troy Hawke

Review by Jay Richardson

Part of the appeal of Troy Hawke, Milo McCabe's dandified throwback to the 1930s, is that he's always been so incongruous: a matinee idol without the movie contract, a handsome rake without conquests, his origins obscure.

But now McCabe offers us an insight into his creation's backstory, the better to emphasise his anachronistic aristocracy. And it's absolutely worth the disclosure.

It transpires that Hawke is the product of a single-parent family from Croydon. Albeit one hothoused in a suffocatingly Oedipal relationship with his mother, who insisted on a rigorous regime of books, exercise and Errol Flynn movies.

Totally naïve and seemingly ill-equipped to cope with modern Britain, he nevertheless escaped one night and has returned to reveal all about a world where the likes of Wetherspoons and William Hill are imbued with an aura of exoticism and Shakespearean poetry. A Candide-type figure transplanted to the high street, resplendent in top hat, cane and pencil thin moustache, addressing us now in his familiar smoking jacket and cravat.

An idiot abroad amongst the common folk, Hawke is initially innocent of the insults he attracts. But with his thespian tendencies, he recreates them faithfully. Although it springs from nowhere, he gets plenty of laughs reading from an Edinburgh Facebook forum about lollipop men and women, the aggressive Scottish accents contrasted with his mannered diction, carried away by the drama of this mundane, parochial discussion: 'Shots fired!'

With his naturally optimistic outlook and a succession of crossed-wire exchanges, he recalls how he bonded with the aggressive Croydon yoof, mistakenly bumbling into a tense stand-off with the local hooligan element watching a West Ham vs Millwall match. Ever the ingénue, his wide-eyed ignorance satirises the aggression and latent homoeroticism of those around him, not to mention the working-class tendency to stand behind a fascist leader if he dresses and speaks well enough, irrespective of what he's saying.

Sashaying and simpering about the stage, camply instructing 'shut up!' with delight at the mildest indiscretion, Hawke is an adaptable character who can cope with a disruptive drunk delaying his exit, or delight in a front row full of rosy-cheeked young Swedes who aren't always up to speed with the questions he's asking them. Whenever he appears set to corpse, he melodramatically wafts his hand across his face like he's centring himself and resuming character.

He has regular recourse to misquoting from the Bible as an explanation for some of his more outdated views, on menstruation for example, a quirk that reiterates his previous isolation but which works against him a little, affording a judgemental authority to an otherwise loveable fool.

But then there's a lovely little coda where Hawke, not McCabe, lets the mask slip a little, reflecting upon the dangers of dismissing gaffe-prone aristos as harmless, suggesting that he's not quite as naïve as he appears.

Review date: 25 Aug 2016
Reviewed by: Jay Richardson
Reviewed at: Laughing Horse @ City Cafe

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