Boothby Graffoe's comic style is now familiar: begin with an ordinary opening line, follow it off at a tangent and deconstruct his own dialogue routines whenever possible. (As he portrays two Russian rocket scientists arguing, one of them interjects, "Vy are ve talking in German accents?") It gives the impression of being a relaxed style, which can go pear-shaped – and often did, on the night I saw him – but remains endearing pretty much throughout.
This year Graffoe is accompanied by the fearsomely deft jazz guitarist Antonio Forcione on a clutch of numbers in a Syd Barrett/Robyn Hitchcock mode (although the only other thing that I can see they all have in common is the letter Y in their first names) such as "Poor Umbrella-Head Boy". Steve Frost also turns up periodically as a butler, continuity announcer and comic foil – though when he and Graffoe go simultaneously into shambling/giggling gear, the edifice threatens to totter.
Boothby does not attempt to hide his occasional stumbles (an off-the-cuff riff on the submarine Kursk's predicament got a particularly chilly reception at the performance I saw), but his air of amiable daftness generally sees him through. He also remains a genuine Fringe enthusiast, continuing after all these years to give sincere plugs for other shows which he just happens to have seen and liked.
Written for the Financial Times Web site, ft.com
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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