Chris Goode, winner of a brace of Fringe First awards in previous years both for solo work and as a part of Theatre Unlimited, has found a distinctive voice and perspective. He blends unobtrusive intellectual motifs, mild surrealism and a vein of gay romanticism that's almost but not quite Queer-with-a-capital-Q, in a mixture that manages to engage the brain, the heart and whatever is the bodily seat of the impulse towards a big, warm, smiley cuddle.
Nine Days Crazy takes its title from Nine Daies' Wonder by Shakespearean clown Will Kempe. The story is that, after walking out of a pretentious theatre production, Goode takes a bet to duplicate Kempe's 1599 achievement of Morris dancing from London to Norwich in nine days, in the hope that this will somehow reaffirm his faith in humanity and restore a sense of his own place in the world. The 90-minute solo piece mixes wry observation, discreet sentiment and hints that there are bigger feelings and thoughts not being directly articulated.
Goode cuts an endearing, generously built figure as he capers in front of a video screen in his ribbons and bells, dropping occasional, gently self-deprecating references to Martha and the Vandellas' "Dancin' In The Street". The boy-meets-boy sub-plot is not so much of the "happy ever after" kind as "happy enough to be going on with, thank you". Back projections and audio tapes never become blatant in their use to relieve the sensation of one man alone on the stage. Well, alone except for his bells.
Written for the Financial Times.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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