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Paddy Lennox: Who Does He Think He Is – Fringe 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Nione Meakin

After the shock of temporarily forgetting his own name on a hospital visit, Paddy Lennox was inspired to ask, exactly what is in a name? How does it define you and how do you define it?

From his parents' contrary decision to call a boy who would grow up a Northern Irish Protestant Patrick, to him abandoning the surname Kane to get an Equity card, how much of your identity, he wonders, is tied up in your moniker? It's a thought-provoking theme for a show, rich with potential, but the end result doesn't convince as comedy.

Lennox is a sweet, occasionally over-earnest, performer whose acting background comes through more strongly than his stand-up experience. With an evident pleasure in the storytelling, he leads the audience through a PowerPoint tour of 400 years in the life of the Kane family.

There's his auntie in the Forties, looking rather racy as she poses on the beach in a bikini. Here's his grandfather, who flew planes in the war and nearly died after crash landing in a field. It's easy to imagine Kane's mum might be about to pop in to hand round tea and biscuits, such is the cosy, Sunday afternoon feel. 

Hoping, like we all do, to find evidence of heroics or scandal in his lineage, Lennox takes a DNA test but the results are disappointingly mundane. When he is told a relative of considerable note is buried in Westminster Abbey, however, a chain of discoveries are made that lead him to re-evaluate the person he thought he was.

If none of this sounds particularly amusing, that's because it isn't. It's sometimes interesting, occasionally poetic (as when he likens the death of his grandfather to a library fire) and often endearing, but it's not funny. It may have more success as a drama, but it would need some serious development.

As it stands, Lennox is too bogged down in his personal journey and neglects to explore the elements that might resonate with an audience. The family album of a stranger has fairly limited interest. While he may be fascinated to find out who he is, he needs to imbue his audience with the same enthusiasm.

Review date: 18 Aug 2009
Reviewed by: Nione Meakin

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