Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh
August, 2000

After last year's success, the pair of old variety stars are once again reunited to deliver a shambolic lecture routine on the dramatic and comedic arts in an hour which is by turns delightful, overplayed and downright disturbing.

Count Arthur Strong (Steve Delaney) is a deluded old stager who runs an "Academy of Performance" in Doncaster ("It's just like the Rada, they're all tellin' me that"), whilst spangly-jacketed Terry Titter (Terry Kilkelly)'s downfall is plainly that he is a man immensely fond of his bottle, or indeed anyone else's. The pair pretend to be spontaneous, fumble with their scripts and uncontrolled verbal ejaculations, allow each other brief solo spots and the fall prey to the massive rift which has apparently existed between them for thirty years.

As Strong's memory and physical abilities desert him, Delaney elicits unsettlement amid the laughter as he takes comic decrepitude right to the limit. Kilkelly is skilled at character work (his chaplain is just about the only performance in the right register in this year's Fringe production of The Erpingham Camp), but to my taste he exaggerates Titter's foibles too much; his brief appearance as a queeny but talentless Scouse drama student is more of a piece. These figures won't take the world by storm, but then again, that's the whole point.

Written for the Financial Times Web site,

Copyright Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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