tue 27/10/2020

John Shuttleworth, Leicester Square Theatre review - reflections on life in the slow lane | reviews, news & interviews

John Shuttleworth, Leicester Square Theatre review - reflections on life in the slow lane

John Shuttleworth, Leicester Square Theatre review - reflections on life in the slow lane

Graham Fellows' alter ego returns

John Shuttleworth, aka Graham Fellows, seems oblivious to the real world

John Shuttleworth walks gingerly on stage and stands with his back to the audience. As he points out, the tour – his first in three years – is called John Shuttleworth's Back, and he's contractually obliged to show the audience his reverse side.

John Shuttleworth walks gingerly on stage and stands with his back to the audience. As he points out, the tour – his first in three years – is called John Shuttleworth's Back, and he's contractually obliged to show the audience his reverse side. That is just the first of many exquisitely pedantic reflections from the nerdy Sheffield comic/musician, a character created by Graham Fellows (also the creator of Jilted John and his hit of the same name in 1978).

The show is about Shuttleworth's bad back and his first song tells us all about it: “I pray it's just lumbago/ If it's a slipped disc/ I shouldn't have taken the risk”. He's suffering because his wife, Mary, made him move his beloved keyboard from the lounge to the garage, where he has to perch on a multi-pack of Diet Sprite, which of course depletes weekly and puts him off balance.

The subjects for his songs, and the chat in between, are wonderfully quotidian – mourning the disappearance of Abbey Crunch biscuits, losing the dustpan brush (much to Mary's chagrin) and the puzzling popularity of cafetières (the pronunciation of which he of course mangles).

Accompanying himself on keyboard, Shuttleworth bangs out the songs with tinny bossa nova and cha-cha beats, hitting the wrong buttons occasionally, but that's part of the bumbling charm – even after all these years (Fellows has been performing the character for more than three decades) he still hasn't improved. He sings about his kettle with a blue light, his Y-reg car,  his wife's friend's Citroën Berlingo which he lusts after (the car, not the friend), and his hymn to the best road in Britain, “The A1111”.

There's time in this unhurried show to phone Mary, hoping she has forgiven him for his brush transgression, and his agent, the hapless Ken, who has got him another duff gig in the middle of nowhere, for which Shuttleworth – oblivious to the real world – is pathetically grateful.

Little that Shuttleworth does or says at this point in the character's existence is going to surprise us – but that's the point. Not once does Fellows break character, still less the fourth wall, with a knowing aside or wink, and the delivery is deliberately calm and mannered. But the pace picks up towards the end as Shuttleworth performs a medley of his “greatest hits”, including “Two Margarines”, “I Can't Go Back to Savoury Now” and “Pigeons in Flight”, which sends his fans into raptures.

Shuttleworth bangs out the songs with tinny bossa nova and cha-cha beats

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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