Edinburgh Fringe 2012
The grand knight of the Fringe returns to the Fringe with his solo show showcasing works from the Dylan Thomas canon. The performance is vintage Bewes charming, chaotic and immensely entertaining.
The ageless master works his magic seducing the Fringe once again. Over the course of several solo shows, including Three Men in a Boat and The Diary of a Nobody, Bewes has established himself as THE act to see in any given year. How does this year’s offering, A Boy Growing Up: An Entertainment from the stories of Dylan Thomas, affect his seamless batting average?
The show is conceived of as Thomas delivering the stories in a BBC radio studio and we enter to discover Bewes is already on stage. The set is minimalist yet hugely effective. A series of perforated white screens give the sense of sound proofing. There is a table, an old school BBC branded standing mic and a green recording light operated by Bewes’ very own foot. This simple arrangement is the most obvious manifestation of the magical interplay between himself and the audience which is Bewes’ signature. The point is to have the light on during the readings (otherwise what’s the point?) but ever charmingly befuddled Bewes requires the audience to keep him on his toes, as it were. It seems slightly chaotic but we know it is the best kind of rehearsed spontaneity.
Bewes narrates and enlivens stories from across the Dylan Thomas canon including Reminiscences of Childhood, A Story – The Outing and Just Like Little Dogs. The delivery is not flawless – that’s not the point – but it is sharp and engaging. Bewes is a pot of mischievous soup rattling, always whistling and ready to boil over at any moment. Of course anyone (like me, I must admit) who is left cold by Thomas’ nostalgic lullabies is not going to get every soothing subtly of the script. Does it matter? Not really. It has been known for Fringe stalwarts to consider crawling over glass to hear Rodney Bewes read a telephone book. Perhaps it’s the Keith Floyd-esque delivery and total mastery of the stage. My companion credits the knowing gleam in Bewes’ eyes and his sparkling smile – it takes all sorts.
This is the kind of show that makes the real Fringe a real pleasure. A world class talent performing in a mid-sized venue, rolling with each audience in succession and always available to sign autographs afterwards in a disarmingly off hand manner. You would never know you were in the presence of an acting legend, grand knight of the Fringe and all round raconteur – that is until you see Bewes on stage.