The whirr of a granny-mobile jolts into action and within seconds Barry from Watford zooms onto stage, bleating a tuneless song to the utter (and somewhat surprising) delight of the audience. Energy buzzes its way through an hour in which this caricature, created and acted by Alex Lowe, discusses the absurdities of the life of Barry.
The first ten minutes of the show left me feeling sceptical about what was to come, as even Barry admits his sense of humour won’t get much beyond an opening quip on his wife taking a dump in a restaurant toilet. He repeatedly reverts to a slurred and dilapidated delivery of lines, which may have delighted the die-hard Barry fans of the audience, but it irritated the rest of us. However after the realisation that Barry’s bulbous, shiny nose was not real and neither were those yellowing, cracked teeth, this character comedy became a little more comprehensible.
Thankfully as the show goes on Barry lessens his slurring of random lines and at times goes beyond base humour to achieve some very funny moments. His musings upon the frivolities of middle class life – for example his view on what is ‘essential’ according to Waitrose – was quite frankly hilarious. Unfortunately this is tainted by unfunny and predictable humour (his jokes on the royal family have all been heard before). Nevertheless Lowe deserves credit for the energy of Barry that is sustained in the delivery of every line.
Barry’s life is fleshed out with the varied use of props and stage equipment. The images projected onto the screen behind him introduced us to everything from the joys of his childhood to the fading joys of his wife Margaret. Likewise when he peruses old records snapped up in closing-down sales from that HMV on Watford High Street, the audience shares in his glee. The construction of the show works; props successfully develop the oddities of Barry, working towards a finale in which he tries his hand at ventriloquism with a puppet even more doddery than himself.
If you’ve never listened to Steve Wright’s show on Radio 2, don’t bother with this show as it’s definitely one for the Barry-lovers out there, but if you’re a fan this won’t be one for you to miss.