Count Arthur Strong: The Musical?
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2006
Count Arthur Strong showcases his life story to the music of Ronnie Conway. See it now before it inevitably hits the West End and ticket prices quintuple, sextuple or octopusle.
Count Arthur Strong's long and losing battle with senility always offers some of the more bizarre spectacles of the fringe, and this year is no exception.
This time around the self-imagined showbusiness legend has decided to stage a musical about his eventful life, and this, supposedly, is a pitch to would-be angels wanting to invest in his planned West End extravaganza.
It wouldn't be giving much away to say it doesn't go exactly smoothly.
In Count Arthur, Steve Delaney has delicately layered so much potential for comic release: the physical comedy of a doddery old man losing his marbles, the utterly misplaced arrogance, the malapropisms as he grasps vainly and furiously for the right word, and the anger at both his own mental clumsiness and the dysfunctional world around him.
There's something for everyone in this surprisingly believable grotesque, and the key is orchestrating the various humorous elements of his personality to make sure there's always something for everyone in the older-than-average audience.
Personally, I found the painstakingly slow physical digressions hugely frustrating, as he struggles with his glasses or keeps wandering offstage and on, absent-mindedly picking up a Patricia Cornwell novel and becoming distracted by that. But for others, that was the cue that tipped them into quiet hysteria.
On the other hand, I loved his enraged rants in which he tries to spit out aggravation, bile and petulant revenge, especially at the theatre critic of the Doncaster Recorder, only to find him hampered by a lack of mental sharpness, which in turn frustrates him more, drawing him into some inescapable emotional feedback loop.
Most of the set pieces are marvellous, especially a piccalilli taste test involving his put-upon sidekick, and every cackhanded sample of the promised musical: his Ode to Doncaster, delivered wearing angel wings; the clunky script, the appalling and baffling attempt at transatlantic accents, the fumbled dressing room mirror skit, and an out-of-character Eminem spoof.
I could have done with less of the patience-stretching faffing - but I guess that's Arthur, and he's nothing if not a fully-rounded idiot yet there are plenty of fine comic moments in another barking mad show.
RobBethell - 18/01/2008
Having seen CAS last night at the Brewery Kendal,and came away aching from laughter,he never fails to please, just wish he had gone on a little longer, but suppose its very tiring for such and old man...
glenn hudson - 06/11/2007
We've seen CAS every year he's been at the Fringe for the last five years (think he missed a year) and the man is a true genius. I just don't understand why some don't get it - but I suspect that says more about them than it does the Count. The ventriloquism section with the mummy nearly made me pass out through lack of oxygen I laughed so much.
Dave Wain - 20/05/2007
Why does this superb character actor remain only a cult figure? He's ten times funnier than so many TV comedians. Saw him live in the Musical yesterday and he was brilliant. I like comedy, but don't laugh out loud at much - except for Count Arthur, he is a legend and I cant get enough of him.
John Drake - 24/04/2007
Count Arthur Strong The Musical is an outstanding hour of sheer entertainment that flies by so quickly. Non Stop Laughter from a genius of comedy. The skill of Mr Steve Delaney is a joy to behold and I recommend that any aspiring Comic actor watches the sheer skill and craft - never once letting the mask slip. All hail Count Arthur!
Mike Saunders - 29/11/2006
Elaine is right. Half an hour with one of Count Arthur's CDs gives a greater lift than any pharmaceutical. I also saw the musical live in Leicester. I never thought I would encounter anything funnier than Father Ted, but Count Arthur has proved me wrong.
Elaine - 01/09/2006
Absolutely wonderful live performance. I'd follow this man all the way to Doncaster. I can't go one week without listening to one of his CD's and to step into his world for half an hour of bone shaking laughter.
Julie - 16/08/2006
A sheer masterclass of comedy! Steve Delaney is class act not to be missed
Marcus W Shepperdson - 08/08/2006
Count Arthur Strong gives a royal performance. It was good to see Malcolm but where was Wilf the butcher? Aspiring character comedians watch and learn.
Andy Barr - 07/08/2006
Outstanding. From a character that I had always thought would never break out of a niche market he now looks like he is waiting for a slot on Jonathan Ross. Well worth a visit.