Dandy in the Underworld

Tim Fountain, based on the book by Sebastian Horsley
Soho Theatre

This is a one-man-show, written and directed by Fountain, presenting a real-life Soho personality, artist and sometime newspaper columnist Sebastian Horsley, who is played by Milo Twomey. I don't know how accurate this portrait is for I know neither the man, nor his memoirs, though one of his paintings on the set looked rather familiar in style, but I assume it follows his life as presented in his own self-exposing book.

Paul Will's set looks a very convincing room in Meard Street with period panelling and shuttered windows, the walls covered with pictures and personal memorabilia and a cupboard displaying rows of skulls, while centre stage is a chair that could only be described as a throne. It has a reality that Twomey's Sebastian both does and doesn't, for this is a performer performing a performer who wants to be noticed, and sees being shocking as good self-promotion.

Are his stories of smearing himself with shit, multifarious sexual activity, previous addiction and parental alcoholism to be taken for real (which some of them certainly are) or just told for effect? He could just be being brutally honest, except that it all comes out as material he's repeated on endless occasions without any freshness in the way it is thought.

It has certainly been worked on, and for the page rather than spontaneous speech That makes perfect sense for the character and may well be the actor's and director's intention but it gets in the way of actually being funny and (art work apart on which I won't comment here) this outrageous personality seems only really interesting as a freak or a wit.

Freak-watching has its limitations and soon bores but fortunately this has been kept down to about 75 minutes and there were quite a few in the audience who found it much more funny than I did.

Continues until 10th July 2010

Reviewer: Howard Loxton

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