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Richard Crawley: The Boy
Published on Monday, 23 May 2011

4 stars

Upstairs at Three and Ten (venue website)
20-22 May, 5:00pm-6:00pm
Reviewed by Mathilda Gregory

 Suitable for age 15+ only.

Richard Crawley's show, in which he plays the titular 'Boy' – David Michael Angelo – is the story of a very beautiful man. His beauty, he explains in breathy Winnipeg tones, is just as much curse as blessing, but he's not the most reliable narrator: it turns out that the beautiful boy's beautiful life is quite charmed, and more than a touch surreal.

The central joke is that Crawley himself, though tall and slender, is pretty ordinary-looking, but he tells us he is beautiful so often we start to believe him. He opens the monologue bounding on stage in tight trousers and mirrored shades, inviting the audience to enjoy gazing at him as he eats a banana 'for energy'. Looking at his beauty, he is sure, is the real reason why we've all come to see him. With some intense eye contact as The Boy eats, it's actually quite bizarre and unsettling.  The consumption of male beauty feels taboo here, even when edged with silliness.

There are some good jokes and interesting ideas in this mix, if you can get past the strange atmosphere which the subject matter and often hysterically-intense performance creates. I enjoyed the carefully constructed character of David, who is so beautiful he's somehow got the idea into his head that he's also smart (he's really very, very dumb). The reach of the show is also impressive: David confesses to his troubled relationships with both Sinitta and Germaine Greer – two women who probably share very little else in common.

The flaw in this show about flawlessness is that it can't quite decide if it’s going all-out for surreal comedy – some elements of the story are pure fantasy – or aiming to be naturalistic. At times the show feels like it wants to make serious points about gender politics, but can’t because it’s too constrained by its own silliness. Perhaps if some of the more madcap elements could be toned down, the points the show wants to make could shine through… and David Michael Angelo could offer both style and substance.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Brighton 2011.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.