Arthur Smith: Syd

Arthur Smith presents this heartwarming tribute to his dead father, Syd. Rather than narrate from his own perspective, Smith takes on the persona of his father, reading from the memoirs he’d written prior to his death. As the audience pours into the Queen Dome at the Pleasance, we are met with jaunty war homecoming piano melodies. The audience are transfixed, singing and clapping along, as the vintage redhead we are only introduced to as ‘Kirsty’ entertains the masses.

An hour of nostalgia and song that will leave you moved

This is a tale of heartache, bravery, imprisonment, love, alcoholism and death - in that order. Syd Smith fought at El Alamein, became a prisoner of war and ended up in the notorious Colditz. Following his return from the war, he served as a beat bobby on the South London streets, and his memoir details many of his encounters - mostly narrated around his reticence to want to actually arrest anyone. We were given snippets of these tales through the medium of Smith, however we were also left a bit frustrated having heard only half the story. A key example being the tale of a gay Doctor who was charged with ‘gross indecency for acts with another man’, whom Syd was instructed to arrest. But we hear no more. What happened to the Doctor? What was Syd’s opinion of this? And Arthur’s. Too much left unsaid.

Smith leads us through various anecdotes from his father’s memoir, enabled via the medium of dress up, dance and song. As well as the fantastic pianist with a voice as splendiferous, Smith also featured Ali Day into the performance. One was left wondering what exactly her purpose was. Her voice was overshadowed by the musician known to us only as ‘Kirsty’, and her acting parts were stilted and unnatural. This contributed to a performance which overall was passionate, but also a bit confusing as Smith is also not the strongest singer.

This is a heartening hour of stories from a time since passed, and a highlight was the wonderful musicality of the musician who was both pianist and songster. it was notable that the older members of the audience went crazy for this, and it was a nice backdrop to hear the stories Smith had to tell. An hour of nostalgia and song that will leave you moved.

Reviews by Jodie McVicar

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Following the success of Arthur Smith Sings Leonard Cohen, the comedian, again accompanied by the mellifluous Smithereens, tells the story of his own father in this brand-new show. Syd Smith fought at El Alamein, became a POW and ended the war in the notorious Colditz Castle in Germany. In the 1950s PC Syd patrolled London's South Bank and met a gallery of characters, whom he tried his best not to arrest. Arthur tells this enthralling 20th-century story with laughter, music (from Ray Davies and others), reflections and a hilarious photo.