20 Years - And Still In The Pink

Mervyn looks back on two decades of performing at the Fringe in this one-man-and-his-guitar show, playing some of his favourite comic songs from previous years, mulling over changed times, and coming to terms with being an aging baby-boomer.

I started off by not really warming to this – Mervyn’s on stage by himself with his guitar, like an elderly roadie warming up the crowd at a gig, reprising his comic songs from the last twenty years (cleverly satirical lyrics to well known pop tunes of the 60’s and 70’s – think Beatles, Bowie and Dylan). This is interspersed with chat about the changes he’s seen over two decades, comparing 1980’s politics to now (Thatcher/Reagan vs. Blair/Bush; David Mellor’s Chelsea strip vs. Mark Oaten’s rent boys). So far, so good, but as one man’s trip down memory lane it wasn’t really going anywhere for me.

I was beginning to dread the remaining 30 minutes, but then he changed tack and started to acknowledge what I was already thinking, giving the show a whole new meaning and depth. The show wasn’t primarily for me – it was for and about Mervyn and his generation. He started to talk and sing about how it felt to watch life moving on around him whilst he stayed much the same (mentally anyway). How he’d decided in his early Forties (fifteen years ago) to stop writing songs for twenty-somethings as he had nothing to say to them any more. How his songs started to focus on hip replacements, incontinence, balding and geriatric sex.

Enjoyable as the first half is, with a few clever lines and plenty of witty little numbers – Benny Hill’s ‘Ernie’ adapted for Arnold Swarzenegger as ‘Arnie’; Mungo Jerry’s ‘In the Summertime’ turned into ‘It’s Osama Time’ – the show’s real strength sneaks up on you because we have so little like it. A middle-aged man standing by himself on stage, talking and singing about the experiences and emotions of growing old. Mervyn bares his soul with humour and manages to be funny, angry and quietly moving all at the same time.

So, this is a really good show in search of an audience – I just hope he can find it on the Fringe. There is an enjoyable hour here for everyone except the obscenely youthful, but if you’re a fifty-something, Guardian-reading Fringe goer, add another star to this review and go see it whilst you still can (given its short run). If you’re not in that demographic but know someone who is, tell them about it. Bus in the silver foxes; they’ll love the show and will still be home in time for slippers, Horlicks, and then early to bed for some wrinkly shagging (© M. Stutter !).

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The Blurb

Mervyn Stutter first appeared on the Fringe in 1987, so to celebrate this amazing fact he will be entertaining you with an hour of comedy and song to mark his 20 years at the Festival.

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