Angelos And Barry: The New Power Generation | Review by Steve Bennett

Angelos And Barry: The New Power Generation

Review by Steve Bennett

They are both marginalised characters on the edge of society – either from bored self-destruction, or simply by being old and forgotten. So when Angelos Epithemiou and 82-year-old Barry From Watford team up for a podcast a couple of years back, it made perfect sense.

Though be very aware that ‘perfect sense’ is a relative expression when it comes to these two malodorous outsider oddballs.

The men behind the personas, Dan Renton Skinner and Alex Lowe, each perform with a stylised dour and deadpan delivery that requires an audience to get on board of be baffled by their inconsequential shenanigans. 

Though their low-energy delivery, sometimes bordering on ‘anti-comedy’, feels like a very contemporary style, there is something timeless about the underlying hopelessness of the characters and the co-dependency between them. In the week the comedy world lost the genius of Alan Simpson, it’s hard not to think of Steptoe and Son.

And that’s even before they add their peculiar set pieces that owe more of a debt to the music hall. They even do Flanagan and Allen’s walk for one promenade song, and with this grubby, insalubrious duo  – Angelos especially – you could genuinely believe they have slept underneath the arches. That said, laboriously repeating the word ‘tit’ or crafting a pair of home-made testes is a twist on the peculiar variety turns of old worthy of Angelos’s old mukkers, Vic and Bob.

This tour show is purportedly a recruitment drive for their self-started spiritual movement The New Power Generation. Nothing to do with Prince nor, they insist, is it a cult. Although they accidentally keep referring to it as such.

There are a few gentle pokes at meaningless mantras and the faddish mindfulness movement, but this is but a flimsy prop for another flimsy premise: an old-school sitcom-style storyline that octogenarian ‘guru’ Barry – whose surname, we learn, is St Michael – won £3,000 on the horses, but in his decimated mental state has forgotten where he put it 

Anything attempting a plot creaks pretty heavily, but it exists only as a framework for their set pieces, from the insane hilarity of Angelos dancing with a Chinese dragon head on, to the least convincing Kenneth Williams impersonation you’re likely to hear, or from Barry lamenting in song the impact of the 5p plastic bag levy on his pensioner’s income to Angelos going on a date with a remarkably game member of the audience.

There’s a Knockabout spirit slightly reminiscent of the old Bottom tours, though the pair anchor the anarchy in surprisingly credible performances (despite Barry’s bizarre glottal exertions, doing for his voice what Les Dawson did for the piano) which restrains the madness.

The pair will probably always remain cult figures, a favourite for some – one punter guffawed especially Ioudly last night before leading a one-man standing ovation – baffling for others. But they are an extension of a rich comic tradition, offering a generous handful of hilarious moments in this show, even if carrying an hour does expose some limitations of creations who usually transcend their novelty.

Review date: 10 Feb 2017
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Soho Theatre

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