Fag Ends and Families...!

Simon Egerton is already playing the electric piano when we enter the bar. It’s like he’s always been there, tinkling away, smiling at half-forgotten memories. Taking on the persona of Paul, he starts in the present, lamenting or perhaps admitting with relief that he prefers a cup of tea to a boozy session, an early night to a night on the town. How the official people, police and doctors, all look so young and seem to be there to remind us that we have peaked, that we are ‘over the hill’. But it was not always like that. He can remember the days when smoking inside was acceptable. More than acceptable, that was how it was. Paul relates the story of how he tried his first puff of a cigarette because he had romantic notions of film stars and cigarettes and ‘image is everything’. Predictably, the episode does not end well.

The audience grows with Paul and witnesses his version of family events, from his own campness, his mother’s visitors, her loss (which moved me to tears) and her death, to his reaching an understanding of his father.

There is so much about this performance that is almost melancholy but also lightly dusted with a perfect balance of humour and pathos. The moment when Paul describes his need for the perfect plum, not too sour, not too sweet because ‘sweetness is no compensation for being stung’ by the wasps that appear as the fruit ripens. But this could be seen as a subtle metaphor for his life and the balance he is striving to achieve. There is a more than a touch of Brel or even Sondheim about the songs and he becomes almost Shakespearean towards the end, but given Egerton’s impressive theatrical history it is to be expected, and it is to our benefit that he writes with such form.

Egerton’s prose elevates the everyday to the sublime, with poetic metaphors peeking out from every corner and delicious descriptions of a family fraught with secrets but laced with love. He paints this wonderful portrait using his palette of understated compassion for the human condition. I am left feeling neither happy nor sad but strangely comforted and that wonderful feeling lingers.

Reviews by Sarah McIntosh

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Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
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Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
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Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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The Blurb

Songwriter and humorist Simon Egerton (Jacques Brel meets Alan Bennett) shares a journey into Englishness through songs, stories and the remembered mist of cigarettes... Wry and warm, wonderful melodies. Ticket includes free cocktail! www.simonegerton.com.

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