Hall's musical sideline – career convict Crenshaw, in Scotland as part of a prisoner exchange scheme – has now expanded to the point of swallowing its creator, and it works a treat.
Where Hall as Hall would sometimes come a cropper by taking a verbal riff too far or working himself into a corner, Hall as Crenshaw can digest it within his character and shamble free of such snares in a few seconds. The Crenshaw routine now incorporates material which is strictly out of character – would this tattooed Tennesseean who remarks that "To call my family white trash is an insult to polystyrene" really know that much about scientists weighing the planet, or even know the word "subtext" to apply it to Barbara Cartland novels? – but is sustained by ragged not-so-good-ol'-boy amiability.
So, in addition to these spoken segments and characteristic Crenshaw numbers like "Women Call It Stalking" and the Shetland rodeo cowboy song, we are offered a sharp dissection of the reality behind "Jailhouse Rock", a coffin-country ditty about real major musicians who died in agricultural accidents ("They fought the lawn, and the lawn won"), and such skill at working the audience that he even generates a brace of spoken-word numbers about his chosen victims. It may well be time to put Hall's name and those magic Fringe words "Perrier Award" in the same sentence. [After-the-fact note: well done, me!]
Written for the Financial Times Web site, ft.com
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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