Evening Standard Review 31/1/07
Menage A Un stretched too far
By Bruce Dessau, Evening Standard 31.01.07
More reviews by Bruce Dessau
Richard Herring excels at unpicking linguistic absurdities
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Not so much death by a thousand cuts, but potential murder by a single swing of the Tory axe.
Wandsworth council's shock slashing of Battersea Arts Centre's £370,000 annual grant has put this influential cultural hotbed in jeopardy.
The venue is smiling bravely, continuing with its N20 Comedy Festival, bringing the cream of Edinburgh 2006 to SW11.
On the subject of cuts though, Richard Herring could certainly do with some. In stretching Menage A Un into a 90-minute two-parter there was a tangible flabbiness and too much Ricky Gervaisness in his ironic political incorrectness.
Elsewhere, the shadow of erstwhile partner Stewart Lee hung heavy over extreme riffs. Like Lee, Herring enjoys pushing ideas to snapping point and a section in which he imagined the various unpleasant things one could do with Jesus's stigmata had more than an echo of Lee's epochal scatological scene involving Christ in his 2005 show.
Which is not to say that original wit was entirely absent. Herring excels at unpicking linguistic absurdities.
Musing on why the French call the potato an "apple of the ground", he noted that this is akin to the English calling lasagne "the Lion bar of the oven". There was also a damning critique of Steve Martin's film career - both funny and accurate.
Somehow, though, the set never quite gathered momentum. It was only in the final 15 minutes, as various strands came together, that one could see the playful satirical potential.
Hardly magnifique, but there's life in Menage A Un yet. Let's hope there's life in BAC, too.