Vivian Stanshall’s flamboyant 1978 album is aired in a one-man tour de force, creating a gif portrait of the eponymous Sir Henry at Rowlinson End.
Stanshall’s work is the ultimate audio-book for adults with descriptions that dance with the accompanying music. The characters don a fabulous attire of grotesque description and bawdy action, which alone Mike Livesly tirelessly affects with gestures and ticks that resonates with the original.
Mike shows a tenacious attitude as he wades through Vivian’s thick lyrical imagination, despite problems with his headset microphone, which tipped too close to his mouth. Admittedly this did not seem to affect the front rows, who frequently sounded their delight with shaking laughter. From further back, however, I failed to hear a lot of what he said: the puns, the metaphors, the gags. The power of the performance was unredeemably lost.
Unfortunately although Vivian’s language has all the enchantment of Lewis Carroll, I felt more like I had my foot stuck down a rabbit hole, unable to access the colourful world before me.
The performance is a Guilty Dog Production and continues to tour. Dates are posted on http://www.sirhenrylives.com/