Review: John Shuttleworth at Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds, November 15
11:01 16 November 2014
John Shuttleworth has only been on stage for about five minutes, when he explains his fix.
The ‘versatile singer/organist’ from Sheffield had wanted to share fond memories of his favourite past weekends (that Saturday smoothing out Polyfilla or the haunting dream about plum crumble) but a typo on his Wee Ken to Remember tour poster means Shuttleworth is honour-bound to spend the evening paying homage to his diminutive next door neighbour and sole agent – Ken Worthington.
But between phone calls to Ken – who’s more interested in a forthcoming and ultimately doomed date with Joyce (she lives in Hope, she used to live in Barnsley) than telling the story of his life – Shuttleworth still finds time to recount a ‘humbling’ visit to the pencil museum in Keswick and the bulb museum in Spalding as he links tenuously to his classics, including a sing-along rendition of Pigeons in Flight.
And here lies the joy of an audience with Shuttleworth (aka Graham Fellows). There is no expectation that boundaries will be crossed or new ground broken, because revisiting familiar themes with the retired security guard and exploring his Yamaha-based back catalogue is always such good fun.
With each grimace and perfectly-timed ‘Ooff!’ he paints a fond and detailed picture of provincial Britain, from frustration at youthful weekend drunken revelry (Here Comes Midweek), the horrors of kitchen chaos (Two Margarines) and relationships bedevilled with wind (Eggs and Gammon).
Shuttleworth tells the audience he agreed to play the Theatre Royal in ‘well-heeled’ Bury St Edmunds on the promise of a designated parking space and petrol money.
I would happily pay that fee myself and free-up a spot on my drive if it meant a return trip.