Punny man Richard Pulsford hangs up his comic hat in tribute to the many that perished during The Great War. Conflict of Interest is somewhat of a personal story, being that 'the many' include relatives of his, so there’s a big emphasis on ancestry, marriages, offspring and, well, pictures of old family homes.
The extent at which his family were involved in significant historical events is, at times, quite remarkable.
Pictures indeed. It’s a slideshow-and-speak setup, and we’re shown many images of old, ranging from broad chested, moustachioed men to hastily converted steam trawlers under the service of the Royal Navy. Richard has the facts to back up these images, and it’s clear he’s done his research – even the chest measurements of his lost kin are included. We hear of trench fever, coastal bombardments and vessels sinking at sea, and he illustrates well the hardships of life for those only two generations removed. The extent at which his family were involved in significant historical events is, at times, quite remarkable.
From the whistle he leaps over the top with a swathe of information, but he speaks calmly with the air of a well versed history teacher meaning not all of what we hear hits the mark. It becomes clear as we move forward that there’s little buzz to the show, which is unfortunate considering his comedy background, but it’s apparent that he has stepped away from his usual rhetoric so one must embrace this when going in.
An interest in The Great War is preferable in order to maintain a lock on what’s being said, however the backbone of it all revolves around a man’s personal journey of discovery. Regrettably the effect of this on the performer is lost somewhat as he grazes over his moving visits to cemeteries – it would have been nice to hear how he felt as an individual. There’s a lot here to squeeze into an hour, we’re swamped with information at times, and it’s clear that he’s marching us down a road rife with cold, hard facts. We’re certainly not on a journey to passion-dale. For those of us who find acts of bravery and gallantry more moving than the woes of romance, then there are a few wide eyed moments, perhaps that sting in the chest, but with Richard’s calm and casual air the sentiments are kept at a simmer.
If you’re looking for some concise history or the pains of a man’s lengthy investigation then this is perhaps not for you. Yet, if you’ve ever considered family research then the plain results here are quite fascinating. Richard closes the show in the hope that the audience will embark on their own climb through the branches of the intangible family tree, and considering the intricacies of his own story, I can’t say it’s a bad idea.