Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Impossibly Vulgar ... but They Still Love Barrymore; REVIEW

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Impossibly Vulgar ... but They Still Love Barrymore; REVIEW

Article excerpt


THE prodigal son has returned from his wanderings and is ready to face his public again.

And it must be admitted that his public seemed very happy to have him back. Michael Barrymore began his stint at Wyndham's Theatre with a series of impressive genuflections to all parts of the auditorium, and the ovation was warm, particularly from the ladies. There were obviously other people there for different reasons. After his recent trials and tribulations, Barrymore has the special allure of damaged goods, and there is nothing like a close-up view of the man on stage to indicate just how bad the damage is.

If his recent rehabilitation is a function of the modern age of celebrity, then the staging of his live show harked back to the past, specifically a past that might have once been situated at the end of a very long pier. A six-piece band, described at one point rather optimistically as an orchestra, occupied each side of the stage, all dressed in black and reading their notes assiduously from sheet music on stands.

And that included the drummer. A singer called Suzanne Prentice warmed up the audience with four songs, after which there was an interval. If Barrymore plans on conquering the West End, he might do well to reconsider this lopsided arrangement and put the interval somewhere near the middle of the show, where it should be.

The appearance of the leggy fellow was not long delayed, and I have to confess that he looked well. That, though, is just about the end of the good news. There was no forewarning that the man was going to be so impossibly vulgar. Although a tall man, no sex gag is beneath his reach. His appearances on the television led me to believe Barrymore had something of a natural communicating gift, particularly with children. Unfortunately, his obviously pre-scripted banter was horrible to behold. …

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