Julian Fox: New Spaces For Role Models

Note: This review is from 2004

Review by Steve Bennett

Why Julian Fox's work is listed in the comedy section of the Fringe programme is a mystery ­ there's not a single laugh in it, nor does he appear to strive for any.

This is his love letter to Gatwick airport, especially the North terminal ("it feels a bit classier"), awkwardly and hesitantly told in disjointed prose, deadpan songs and amateur video.

As Fox meanders around the perimeter fence, he shyly offers each fact, tentative opinion or snippet of pointless story as if it's a precious gift he's sharing with a stranger. In return you feel obliged to humour him, knowing how important this lonely, planespotterish fixation is to him.

There is precious little great art inspired by the transient, clinical atmosphere of the departure lounge, and in his modest, low-key way, Fox skillfully manages to hint at its lure for the timid social misfit, obsessed yet passionless.

Fox is a unique voice, for sure ­ even choosing London's second airport to love, as if Heathrow would be far too mainstream ­ and the otherworldly universe he immerses the audience is endearingly sweet. To say it doesn't amount to much would be to state the obvious: that it has no point is its point.

Yet it also makes for a disappointing lack of substance, and Fox's deliberately quiet, dispassionate monotone has a lulling, soporific effect, not helped by the uncomfortably hot room.

As a touching, convincing piece of theatrical character work, New Spaces For Role Models is as successful as it is quirky. As a comedy, the jury's still out, there's nothing you could pinpoint as being funny, though a warm good-natured spirit pervades every minute.

Review date: 1 Jan 2004
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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