Edinburgh Fringe 2019
Lee Mark-Jones warns us before it starts – this might not go well. We then get him as Ziggy Stardust – what could possibly go wrong. Apparently in the music industry – everything – and he should know – he was at the centre of it all! An impulsive punk with a desire to be less than successful, by the time he has got over the death of his sister, when she was 9 and he was 16, never, stopped playing in a band, depending which one and also never, became a full time dad, early 21st Century, he got to Beverley Hills, turned down more deals than groupies and has ended up in our face telling us like it was. With a puppet.
Here’s the thing. If you are looking for crafted and polished, don’t employ an actor who has ADHD, a Borderline Personality Disorder and is on the Autistic Spectrum. If you add in that his musical contemporaries include Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy Kilminster and Axl Rose with a side order of Bruce Dickenson’s ex wife as a partner, there is mayhem as a full meal here.
And I loved it.
I may have been told to stop writing once, but he probably thought it plenty of times. He may have been less than effective in getting some random American onstage to play an American and the script being in front of him the whole time might “thoroughly unprofessional” but for goodness sake!
Given the stories, a celebration of actually still being alive should be the subtitle for this.
The conceit of hosting your own funeral is effective enough. Along with side issues of facing off with the Ziggy within himself in a High Noon altercation works well enough but does not totally fit in. The ribald stories of sex, drugs and more drugs and less sex is a very heady mix. Active, as far as he can remember from 1976 to date in the music business, he has signed for record companies that had Siouxsie and the Banshees, the UK Subs and Neil Diamond in the same company; some company. He tells stories of many adventures including waking up with arms around Johnny Thunder and fighting Slash. These name dropping episodes are given, not to glamourise or to boast but to underscore the fact that he has knowledge to share and opinions to give.
His is an engaging presence that is wholly wonderful to behold. The anarchy is in the Zoo and should be spread across the UK.
The microphone could have been turned up to eleventy stupid, after all it is punk we are talking, and a better structure to avoid bending down to get the teeth and the hat would help the flow.
The interlude with the high noon shoot out and the final video were not great endings – that came with the final story of meeting Bowie, as it should, but hey, you know, this was for me a great time in the company of a fantastic storyteller.
He knew how to structure a story, knew the cadences of it and the chorus of it. Perhaps a pal onstage would keep him on track more but most of the people he would have trusted in that role are probably dead, or even more incoherent. Oh, and that puppet never gets a mention…