Saturday kicked off with a lunchtime date with John Hegley (Beyond our Kennel). This was definitely one of the treats of the weekend. Hegley affects the stern persona of the driest, most deadpan teacher you ever had (step forward Mr Fenlon of Holy Cross,
After that we had a special super bonus show – having enjoyed our taste of
Then it was time for a dash across town and a change of gear – the play Surviving Spike, starring Michael Barrymore as Spike Milligan and Jill Halfpenny as his PA-turned-manager Norma Farnes. Based on Norma’s published memoir, the play takes a fairly accelerated look at their relationship over a number of decades. While the amount of ground to be covered meant that the play was pacy and constantly stimulating, it also meant that – as other reviewers have pointed out – we got little sense of Spike’s constant, prolific and varied creativity. Jill Halfpenny gives a very natural and engaging performance, while Michael Barrymore really comes into his own as Spike becomes older and more burnt-out. His depiction of the frail comedian on the brink of defeat at the end of his life is highly moving.
Then for something completely different – Jerry Sadowitz. Even with prior knowledge of his sociopathic stage persona, it’s hard not to be shocked by the venomous energy of his various rants – in favour of paedophilia, murderous dictators and the Holocaust, and against the McCanns, Muslims, the Chinese and (naturally) the English. However, even though nearly everything he says is thoroughly reprehensible, there’s something thrilling – almost exhilarating – about the glee with which he baits the crowd and seeks out and annihilates even the most sacred taboos. On top of all this, his close-up magic is absolutely exemplary; he can do some amazing things with a pack of cards.
Staggering out into the night, I once again though how exciting it would be to lose my guesthouse key. But, once again, I decided to save that treat for another time…