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Brian Appleton: Let's Look At Sound

Note: This review is from 2001

Review by Steve Bennett

Brian Appleton is just the sort of complex, somewhat tragic, and well-observed comic character you might expect from the creator of John Shuttleworth.

And like his predecessor, the joy of Appleton is in the detail, the closely-observed minutae of the supposed life of a frustrated college lecturer from Newcastle-under-Lyme, convinced that the world has robbed him of his rightful place in rock and roll history.

It' another finely-crafted creation, but this isn't necessarily the perfect show for him.

The premise is that here is, indeed, a look at sound. In this mock lecture, you will learn something about acoustics, whether you want to or not, and Appleton demonstrates what reel-to-reel tape decks and digital mixing desks can do.

Appleton is, of course, obsessed by such comparatively ancient technology, and gets a few laughs out from playing with audience soundbites. But it does get in the way of the performance.

For much of the show, Appleton has his head down, talking at a machine rather than directly addressing his audience.

When he comes away from his toys, the comedy becomes much more fulfilling. The songs based around the weakest of puns (there's that Shuttleworth influence again) beautifully capture the spirit of what he's parodying, and the insights into his character's sad home life are both funny and tragic.

There are plenty of gems here, but the overall feeling is that the character is still being workshopped to a certain extent. It seems like a work in progress - that the show's set-up exists as a way to hone some of the more subtle nuances, rather than the finished deal.

That said, the fact it's funnier than a good many other shows on the fringe certainly says something about the potential this creation has.

Review date: 1 Jan 2001
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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