Sir Henry at Rawlinson End

St Georges Hall

Thu 19 Jan 2012

Long time fans of Slapstick Festival will know that we have maintained a link to all thing’s Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band through the inimitable Neil Innes. We like to think that, were he still with us, the possible even more inimitable (and definitely more bonkers) Viv Stanshall, would be a similarly erstwhile friend and advocate of the festival. Especially considering Viv’s Bristol connections – he used to live in the boat that we now know as The Thekla and, indeed, wrote a lot of his best work there.

Considering this you can imagine that, although not linked to the festival itself, we were thrilled when we found out that St Georges is hosting a recreation of Viv Stanshall’s masterpiece, “Sir Henry at Rawlinson End”, by the acclaimed actor Mike Livesley. Reassuringly, this performance is going ahead with the blessing of the family, confirmation, were it needed, that this show is going to not only be faithful to the original work but that the chances are it’ll be as close as you can get to what the show would be like if Viv Stanshall were doing it himself.

Like a lot of people I know I fell in love with this piece of absurdist brilliance listening to the sessions that were played out on John Peel‘s radio show in the 80’s. Huddled under the duvet and unbeknownst to my parents (I had school the next day) I lilted between struggling to suppress hysterics (and so giving the game away to my parents), revelling in the astonishing wordplay and disbelief that anyone could have such an amazing imagination. Listening back to some of the recordings today brings back similar such emotions.

Below is an embed of the audio from a Youtube video of some of the choicer cut’s from the sessions. It’ll either give you an idea of what the show will be like, or, if like me you’re already familiar with the work, it’ll serve as a reintroduction to Sir Henry, Great Aunt Florrie, brother Hubert and, of course, Scrotum the wrinkled old retainer etc:

As someone commented under the video on YouTube “Who needs Shakespeare?”. (Ok, I know we all need Shakespeare but even so there’s no questioning Viv’s consummate wordsmithery. He is undoubtedly the Shakespeare of his ouvre.) (And yes, I am aware of the irony of a silent film festival talking about ‘wordsmithery’ but I imagine there’ll be some fine visual humour in the show as well.)

Here are some other quotes taken directly from St Georges website about Sir Henry at Rawlinson End:

“One of the richest comic texts in the English language … an exquisitely-honed evening of wit, filth and strangeness keeping the legacy of a great English artist alive … to witness it on stage is an absolute joy.” Mojo

“A tour de force and a work of Art.” Neil Innes

“Suddenly you realised that this special and private thing you’d treasured all these years was special and private to a whole lot of other people too.” Adrian Edmondson

More information about the evening can be found at St Georges website here

Tickets are £15 and you can buy them online at the link above or over the phone on 0845 40 24 001

We’re pretty sure this is a perfect way to get your laughing gear honed, prepped and at the ready for the laughfest that is Slapstick Festival.

Hopefully see some of you there!

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