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Jeremy Lion Goes Green

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

Sozzled children’s entertainer Jeremy Lion hasn’t been on the Fringe for several years, but as he admits under his 98% proof breath ‘things haven’t worked out’, which is why he finds himself back at the Pleasance, pitching his new theatre in education show aimed at encouraging primary school children to go green. It’s probably not giving away too big a secret to reveal that the performance doesn’t quite go as planned.

The inescapable descent into drunken shambles, tinged with regrets and recriminations, comes over a series of scenes in which Lion travels to a oil-drenched beach, the Amazon rainforest, the desserts [sic] of the Middle East and the North Pole to witness the effects of his environmental recklessness.

Aided by the long-suffering pianist sidekick Hilary Cox, each destination requires a jaunty song – uninhibited by Lion’s ability to hit any note – and an ambitious set piece. The musical numbers suffer diminishing returns, but the elaborately ramshackle props are an absolute delight, especially the costume that gives him an oily seabird on one arm and a giant mussel on the other. Farce inevitably ensues as Lion loses track of who’s talking when, setting a tone of demented chaos that’s never far away.

The comic drunk has long been a mainstay of entertainment, and the clumsy, pained and flatulent Lion, with his aspirations to being a jovial avuncular entertainer fitting him as awkwardly as his too-tight suit, is a worthy addition to that esteemed lineage. Creator Justin Edwards, recently seen in more sober guise in The Thick Of It, plays him to perfection, fired up by the can of Special Brew he skulls within the first few minutes of the show.

Lion’s sad back story is revealed piecemeal, to great tragic-comic effect, while the gap between his ambition and ability is expertly exploited for laughs. As with all Lion’s previous shows, the magnificently excessive booze-sodden finale, demolishing enough alcohol to stock a small Oddbins branch, is the piece de resistance – but there are plenty of memorably surreal scenes on the way. It’s good to have him back.

Review date: 8 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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