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Miles Jupp: Telling It Like It Might Be - Fringe 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Jay Richardson

Having long distanced himself from the laird of the manor character with which he established his name, the personable yet fuming Miles Jupp has shifted into someone you’d swear was an upper middle-class parody if he didn’t wear it so well.

A village in Hampshire certainly bought into the urbane appearance and accent, booking him for their hall without realising that his swearing to racism ratio might differ from theirs. As he points out, his comedy is not for these people, it’s about them.

Acutely aware of how others perceive him, he gets good mileage out of accepting the charges but not the crime. He’s a snob, but a left-wing one whose principles depend on him not having to put them into practice. Polite ranting is Jupp’s forte, though unfortunately, for all his erudition and clever, undercutting turns of phrase, it’s also something of a comfort zone.

Raising the green custard attack on Peter Mandelson in protest over Heathrow’s third runway, he builds a compelling image of the security services preparing for any potential food-based assault on dignitaries. Although it’s an amusing segment, it feels like too much exposition and scene-setting for too few laughs. He’s far more concisely funny on his dignified, less than panicked reaction to the credit crunch and the apocalyptic final day of Woolworth – until, that is, his diatribes against Britain’s service industry again start to feel like he’s indulging a character.

The extended saga of him punching his laptop into submission has a more truthful ring of frustration, his banal exchanges with the IT repair man skilfully stretched out into a reluctant battle of wills, with the less-than-revelatory disclosure that some people keep sex pictures of themselves on their computers the setup for a lovely line about treating copulation like a marathon.

After a few observations on his wife’s decision to have a home birth and his own infancy setting the pattern for his impeccable bourgeoisie credentials, he finishes with the lengthy account of their new year’s coach trip to Amsterdam. Predictably trying, Jupp ladles indignity after indignity upon the story, right up to and including the point where he needs to defend his pregnant wife’s honour. Exceptionally well sustained, both in the writing and the performance, it ensures this hour boasts a more triumphant conclusion than his misguided display of bravado.

Review date: 29 Aug 2009
Reviewed by: Jay Richardson

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