Comedy; Making size count
Sunday 25 June 1995
The Right Size walk the dangerous line between comedy and theatre without ever falling into the thespian abyss. Their new show, Hold Me Down, centres on the same two impeccable performers as its predecessor, Stop Calling Me Vernon. Bug-eyed but debonair Hamish McColl and graciously lumbering Sean Foley are a crazed illusionist and his reluctant assistant. They are thrown into disarray by an assassination attempt from the auditorium. Its author, Micheline Vandepoel, then turns out to be a more gifted trickster than either of them.
The theme of disintegrating boundaries between illusion and reality is all too familiar. But the execution is inspired: the jokes manage to be artful without being arch, the slapstick is elegant, and The Right Size use music the way film-makers do, as a short cut to the imagination. It's not as funny when they hit each other over the head with saucepans as when Reeves & Mortimer do it, because you can hear the actual noise it makes, but live performance does have some advantages over TV. For example, you can get audience members to stand on their chairs holding small aerials, and make your voice go all funny if they try to sit down.
When the world and his dog are trotting out of left field with their sights set on the mainstream, what can you do if you're already there? If you're Chris Barrie, the answer is swim like crazy. Having established himself as a front- rank sitcom irritant in the excellent Brittas Empire and the dreary but durable Red Dwarf, the for- mer Spitting Image mainstay is now coming out of the dressing-up box as an all-round entertainer.
Steve Coogan has talked about the nightmare career option that awaited him before his On the Hour/Knowing Me, Knowing You epiphany - to become a cut-price Rory Bremner. Bizarrely, that is the course Chris Barrie now seems to be embarking on. He swaggers about the stage in the suburban arcadia of the Hayes Beck Theatre with the exaggerated confidence of a frontier estate-agent. His touring sketch and skit show The Other Side of Chris Barrie is obviously heading for the small screen, but a lot of work needs to be done before that can be cause for celebration.
Too many of Barrie's sketches wear their debts on their sleeves, and the three women among his four supporting players get roles Hill's Angels would have scorned as too demeaning. This is a shame, because his show has some original moments - an FA cup draw of escalating absurdity in which Sammy the Penguin ends up playing the concept of beauty, or a strangely dark marriage service, in which Barrie's vicar demands "Will you grow fat and sullen, look 46 at 31?". Barrie's chat-show appearances show him to have an appealing personality beneath that nasal drawl: what this show really needs is a "This is Me" segment.
'The Other Side of Chris Barrie': Coventry Belgrade, 0120 355 3055, tonight; Dartford Orchard, 0132 222 0000, Mon; Swindon Wyvern, 0179 352 4481, Tues; Croydon Fairfield Hall, 0181 688 9291, Thurs.
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Oscar voter speaks outfilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Forget 'The Dress': Here are five of the biggest news stories you might have missed
- 2 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 MH370: 'Putin ordered plane to be flown to Kazakhstan space port,' conspiracy theory claims
Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl: First look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Catwoman comes out as bisexual
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Justin Kelly interview: On James Franco playing a gay man who renounces his homosexuality
Grace Dent on TV: Mary Portas: Secret Shopper delves into a grim cornucopia of retail wrongness
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East