Richard Carpenter is Close to You

Matthew Floyd Jones

Matthew Floyd Jones

Underbelly, George Square

From 02 August 2017 to 27 August 2017

Rating: ***

Review by Amy Yorston

Written and performed by Matthew Floyd Jones, this unusual piece takes the audience on a journey of self-discovery with Richard Carpenter—yes that’s right, brother to Karen. Part musical comedy and part musing on what it’s like to be the slightly less famous half of a duo, the show is set in ‘purgatorium’ a place where Richard is forced to perform until he can find the key to self acceptance.

This fictionalised version of Richard can’t play his own music due to copyright reasons so he adapts the famous hits, the melody slightly different, and words entirely different—"We’re literally at the start" and "How come fish jump out of the sea?" as two examples. Knowing that his audience really want the big hits, he also provides a five-word medley complete with a variety of musical instruments.

Although a one-man piece about Richard Carpenter, the show is really about broader psychological themes—the character craving acceptance, recognition and attention. Using Richard as a prism, it reflects on the power of nostalgia and how much of a trap that can be for anyone trying to move on with their life.

Stuck firmly in the '70s complete with platforms and lime green flares, Floyd Jones’s Richard moves from vaudeville comedy to despair (and back again) as the scenarios keep stacking up against him.

It’s appropriate that the show is set in ‘purgatorium’ as the script is an in-between creature itself. There is scope for an all-out parody but also enough depth for a real drama and in this current state is an uneasy combination of both, not quite reaching full laughter, not quite accessing as much darkness as it could.

However, whilst Richard Carpenter is Close to You might not hit every note, it is still a fantastic showcase of Floyd Jones’s tremendous talent and features an ending that no one would be able to predict!