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On This Day
Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 August, 2003, 17:01 GMT 18:01 UK
Feeling the fear with Brydon
By Nick Dermody
BBC News Online Wales

Rob Brydon in Marion and Geoff
Rob Brydon's one-man show based on his character in the BBC television show Marion and Geoff is another venture into the personal pain and humiliation of human relationships.

Only this time, the audience do more than suffer on Keith Barret's behalf - they are made to suffer too.

Welsh-born Brydon is adept at turning the mirror of human frailty to face those watching him from what they think is the dark of the auditorium.

And the result is by turns funny and frighteningly savage with Brydon demonstrating a deceitfully vicious way of dealing with both the folks in the audience who have done nothing to deserve his cruelty as well as anyone foolish enough to think they can help Keith to make a fool of himself.

Keith's talk - called Making Divorce Work - picks up from where he left off after the second series of Marion and Geoff.

It is a celebration of his attempt to make the best of his parting of the ways from Marion - "it was a mutual decision, that was mostly hers" - with him helping the audience to understand why people, particularly celebrity couples, split up.

Behind the bumbling, seeming aimless muddle of thought and the fixed, polite smile of the chump chauffeur lies a cunning sadist waiting to strike.
There are three reasons, apparently, and Catherine Zeta Jones - married to producer and actor Michael Douglas - had better watch out for at least two of them, according to Keith.

Brydon is faultless with the delivery of Keith's sad pleasure at his own inadequacies, with the shortcoming that have made him the man he is now.

Behind the bumbling, seeming aimless muddle of thought and the fixed, polite smile of the chump chauffeur lies a cunning sadist waiting to strike.

He prowls the stage and it's hard to know if the next victim is going to be happy, harmless Keith or someone in the audience.

Keith's hapless inadequacy is counterbalanced by a wanton insensitivity to others which is refreshingly un-PC.

It can only be a matter of time before he has his tyres slashed by some civil rights group in protest at his old fashioned attitude.


Keith declares: "People have come here expecting a show and have been sorely disappointed".

Don't believe it. Though it might not be the show they expect.

What the audience finds is a blend of a modern comedy-of-cruelty that would make David Brent wince, with an older tradition of audience putdowns that would be worthy of Frankie Howerd.

The smart uniform, "appearances are everything", is a prop for Brydon's probing guile.

He never drops his Keith mask but, when someone is in the frame, he does let audience see through it from his side.

On a more gentle note, if people have any queries about where Keith stands these days with Marion and Geoff, or about his "two little smashers," Rhys and Alun, they should have them ready for the question-and-answer session at the end.

The reference to Zeta Jones I mentioned earlier, is probably no accident.

Brydon grew up in Port Talbot, south Wales, just down the road from where Jones began her road to celebrity.

Yet he delivers a mixed message about his Welshness.

He celebrates the relative decrease in suicide in Wales compared to Scotland and Ireland and the pre-show music in the auditorium includes a couple of Tom Jones' latest tracks.

But the last putdown of the evening went to someone who tried to speak to him in Welsh.

Unlike Brydon, I suppose the poor man just had bad timing.

  • Rob Brydon - Marion and Geoff is appearing at the Music Hall in the Assembly Rooms at Edinburgh's Fringe Festival until August 17.



    Comedy king Brydon returns
    23 Jan 03  |  Wales


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