tue 02/06/2020

Frank Skinner, Garrick Theatre review - a masterclass in owning the room | reviews, news & interviews

Frank Skinner, Garrick Theatre review - a masterclass in owning the room

Frank Skinner, Garrick Theatre review - a masterclass in owning the room

Pleasing mix of personal and professional anecdotes

Frank Skinner drops several celebrity names during his 90-minute show

When Frank Skinner did a London run of new material last year, the show was billed as a taster of a longer touring version.

When Frank Skinner did a London run of new material last year, the show was billed as a taster of a longer touring version. I wrote then that the show whetted my appetite for more, and I'm glad to say that the updated version, Showbiz, which now has a West End residency, has delivered.

Showbiz comes after Skinner has chalked up more than 30 years in comedy and is a pleasing mix of reflections on parenting, the ageing process and fame. He starts the show by cheekily using Bruce Forsyth's famous phrase “Nice to see you, to see you nice” when he walks on stage. As he says drily: “No one else is using it.”

Forsyth's name is merely the first he drops over the next 90 minutes – Richard E Grant, the Krankies, Elton John and Freddie Mercury are also among those who get a mention – but this is no star-licking exercise. The story about Brucie and his hunger for laughs (just for him) is not complimentary and many of the celebrity tales that follow aren't exactly affectionate either – but they are all very funny.

Skinner weaves together the personal and professional, the mundane and the outrageous, and does some good audience interaction. But, as ever with him, the bonhomie has an edge. He's in charge, and anybody who makes the mistake of trying to outsmart or outshine him must be ready for an acerbic putdown.

Some tales from last year's shorter version reappear here and lose nothing in the retelling, but there's a lot of up-to-the-minute material too. The royal family's recent travails get a sizeable slice of the evening and the Brexit fallout gets a dishonourable mention.

Skinner apologises for “going knobby early on” as he talks about his fading libido, but what would a show of his be if it didn't have some – well, a lot of – ruderies? And only he could turn a sweet story about parenting and changing his son's nappies into a scatological feast.

The encore – Skinner tells us he's going to do it in the programme notes – neatly ties up the themes of what has gone before, while also giving us some insight into what he may have become if he had not met his partner, who has clearly civilised him. All I'll say is that it involves two boiled eggs and going feral when he's home alone.

The show is performed at a gentle pace but the time flies by; Skinner is a comic at ease with himself and his career, and Showbiz proves to be a masterclass in owning the room.

The royal family's recent travails get a sizeable slice of the evening

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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