Arthur Smith : Syd (Rating 5/5)
Every comedian apparently has a ‘dead dad show’ in them, and this is Arthur Smith’s, but as you would expect from a comedian of Smith’s standing it’s different from any dead dad show you’ll have seen before.
The show is not Smith’s reflections on what the death of his dad meant to him, it is instead a celebration, in his own words. Smith has drawn from his father’s wartime diaries and brought his words and his experiences to life. He’s also added music, with The Smithereens accompanying him on a soundtrack that mainly focuses on the 60s with several Kinks songs and a Leonard Cohen cover that seems to be de-rigeur at Smith’s shows nowadays.
The end result is a show that is a wonderful testament to his father and to everyone of his father’s generation. It’s a warm, touching and heartfelt tribute, unlike anything else you’re likely to see at the Fringe this year.
There are, of course, jokes with a nice opening routine about Colditz castle that is perfect for its mixture of pathos and a superbly timed punchline, and several of his father’s favourite old jokes mixed in alongside other observations, but the show is notable for a lot more than that.
The songs sit expertly alongside the narrative, delivered as a mixture of smoky jazz bar and wartime piano music, with Smith’s voice sounding like it could be the result of too many cigarettes, and adding to the overall effect of a piece that can make you both melancholy and happy.
As the show draws to a close, Smith reflects on a lady his dad met in Venice before offering up a farewell to all of the people he’s mentioned, and I Go to Sleep and Days are superbly reinterpreted by The Smithereens.
It’s hard not to shed a tear at this point for the lives lived and now ended. That in itself is a fantastic tribute to Smith and the band and to the person he’s commemorating. This is truly a show worth seeing.
Pleasance Dome until 19 August