Count Arthur Strong – Live Review – Scarborough Spa

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Count Arthur Strong: Is There Anybody Out There? – Live Review

Scarborough Spa Theatre, October 2019

by Charlotte Oliver

For the uninitiated, Count Arthur Strong is an ageing variety artiste with an optimistic amount of self-belief and a tenuous grip on his train of thought. The award-winning creation and life work of writer and performer Steve Delaney, Count Arthur emerged in the eighties as a live act, became a long-running series on BBC Radio 4, and, most recently, a sitcom on BBC One.

In his brand new show, ‘Is There Anybody Out There?’, Count Arthur shares his self-proclaimed expertise in astronomy through a combination of word, theatre and even dance – and it is an absolute treat!

From the minute he shuffled on stage, with his distinctive hunched shoulders and wonky spiv moustache, the laughs began, and continued thick and fast throughout the evening. Highlights included a play about Galileo constructing a telescope with which to view the heavens, the episode when Count Arthur tried to find his reading glasses, and a truly ingenious DIY representation of the solar system.

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“A joy to see him back on stage”

The genius of this writing is the way humour is constructed; Count Arthur is famous for his hilarious malapropisms and the ease with which his train of thought is derailed by free word association. During the show this resulted in him gradually disappearing down rabbit holes of nonsense whilst the audience’s pain and amusement built and built to laughter of, often, riotous proportions.

However, Delaney’s physical humour is also not to be overlooked – some of the funniest points occurred when Count Arthur was staring out silently to the audience, expertly knowing how long to hold the moment for, as the audience dissolved into rocking laughter.

As a long-standing fan of Count Arthur across all formats, it was a joy to see him back on stage in this one-man show, where he is undiluted by other characters and able to work those side-splitting moments which can only occur in a live performance. This is character comedy at its finest – an utterly joyous evening!

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