Ludlow Fringe Festival 2019
With all the distractions of modern entertainment pure storytelling, as Gerard says, is becoming a lost art but we were all fully engaged with his own life story, dealing as he does with all manifestations of philosophical and actual desire, bodily functions and bizarre out-of-body experiences.
Despite his poster seeming to invite us to see some angry wrestler in mid clinch, the affable Gerard ambles on stage announcing that he’s met everyone in the room already and knows them all by name. That’s how engaging he is to his audience, both before during and after the show. As it seems low key at that point, we are not sure how this is going to go but then he rushes back on with a full blown audience cheer and we are off on a madcap full-speed ahead narration of the history of storytelling in general and his story in particular. Which ranges from his birth with the cord wrapped around his neck three times, (his ketamin-fuelled mother then fainting at the sight of his shock of unexpected red hair) to his attempts to win the girls of his dreams.
From the catastrophic encounter crossing the road behind his chosen one with her perfect buttocks to the Montreal dreamboat he attempts to woo with lobsters, failing as a result the messy consequences of food poisoning. Hilarious diversions lead us into onanism and the misplaced trash items which lead to a house fire and his determination to write his last words in a blog. Sounds confusing? It is, but in a wonderfully spirited and fully engaging way. A real live wire to watch he presents all his tales with such energy and physicality that it just pull us along. At times I thought I was listening to a classic eccentric tale from the Moth Radio Hour (and what a treat he would be on that show) to reminding myself of Woody Allen grappling with live lobsters in Annie Hall. In fact Woody Allen on speed (imagine that?!) meeting Robin Williams on a quiet day is more or less how I would sum Gerard up. And that is no bad comparison. Definitely one to watch.
For myself I would have preferred an early tale to set things moving before being given any historical references to Chaucer and so on. However armed with DH Lawrence’s motto “Never trust the teller, trust the tale”, we can be assured that with Gerard Harris we can do both. Or not … Either way it’s a raucous entertaining evening.