Baron Fortitude: Victorian Rapper | Brighton Fringe comedy review
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Baron Fortitude: Victorian Rapper

Brighton Fringe comedy review

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. Baron Fortitude is by no means the first performer to find that hip-hop and Victoriana makes a pleasing combo. Professor Elemental and Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer long pioneered ‘chap hop’ – and even Michael Gove has professed himself a fan of the genre, binning any hope of credibility.

The Baron gets ahead of such criticism by pointing out that to call him unoriginal is in itself unoriginal since every reviewer mentions it (understandably so, given it’s his whole gimmick), so let’s park that…

One thing the alter-ego of comic Luc Valvona does bring to the party is historical accuracy. His Charles Dickens diss track, accusing him of plagiarism, mocks the author’s signature, while another rap boasts of being in the Glutton Club, the real-life dining group Charles Darwin belonged to, which had the sole purpose of devouring unusual beasts.  These are nicely specific references alongside more commonly understood themes, like putting children to work up chimneys.

Dressed elegantly in top hat and crimson waistcoat - he’s not a magician, he needs to reassure us – Fortitude brings the required jauntiness to his tracks and a strong lyrical flow, as well as era-appropriate gentlemanly manners. The catchy rap showing how tough he is threatens ‘fisticuffs’ should anyone raise his ‘ire’ – while elsewhere, he has very specific diktats about the correct way of making tea.

The gag doesn’t quite sustain for a full hour, despite Valvona’s best attempt to mix things up with items such as a semi-improvised love letter to a woman in the audience and a track explaining the convoluted story of how he got to be alive in the 21st Century (plot holes and all). Even so, the tracks do get samey after a while 

Still, in short doses, this is as much fun as you can have without colonising foreigners, and proof there’s room for more than one chap-hop exponent on the circuit.

• Baron Fortitude: Victorian Rapper is back in Brighton this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Details

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Review date: 15 May 2024
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Brighton Caxton Arms

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