Gary Le Strange: Beef Scarecrow

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

The poster quotes 'If you don't love it, you don't get it.' Well I didn't and neither did about a third of the audience, who filed out in a trickle that became a stream as the hour wore on.

Here is an experienced performer of some reputation. There have been pains taken to create a show of original songs and poems and banter, it's well rehearsed, you can't deny he's a competent performer but what the hell was he thinking?

The geeky, business-suited character who is the show, sounds a little like David Bowie, a little like Michael Caine and a lot like an irritating, honking estate agent. Presenting the songs from his concept album Beef Scarecrow, each track is 'probably his favourite'.

He kicks off with When I'm Prime Minister' with faux naïf lyrics that he claims were first penned at the age of 11. Trouble is that's completely credible. And it doesn't get any better. There's some peculiar references to other work: an angry poem, with a style pioneered by Rik Mayall's pre-Young Ones creations of 20 years ago, right down to the 'Or do I?' stanza, then the title of the show comes from The Time Waster Letters of last year. I may be wrong but I don't think he had anything to do with that, and it's an unlikely coincidence of ideas.

Sure as eggs, if you come up with the phrase of Mighty Tree Of Tripe it will come back to haunt you, that really should be the show's subtitle.

It's not that there's one surreal, unrhymed lyric, they all are. It's not even blank verse ­ it contains a kind of poetry that even the Big Issue would baulk at publishing. I have to respect the thread of the show, it's not incoherent or bitty and Gary le Strange is mainly an engaging performer in this, no matter how poorly served by the material.

You still quite like the guy, even as he acknowledges his fleeing audience, he does it with grace, but it would have been a kindness for someone to point out to him before he blew the money that this is baffling, grandiloquent crap.

Julia Chamberlain


Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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