You've Got to Love Dancing to Stick to It
Written and performed by Julian Fox
I first saw Julian Fox during the BAC's 'Scratch' night over a year ago (where new artistes are given a few minutes to perform). At the time, I thought his work was among the most promising there and liked his quirky style and delivery.
There's always a danger, however, that what is amusing in a short sketch, won't stretch to a full hour of performance and, unfortunately, the script for his one-man show here was a little too disparate to be entirely successful.
Before the performance began, the set promised an engaging evening. A 1938 sepia-coloured photograph of people enjoying themselves at a swimming pool was projected onto the back wall while a deck-chair, paddling pool and buckets of water graced the stage.
All of this fed into Fox's obsession with Brockwell Lido which began when he bought a season ticket for it, turning up almost every day to sunbathe (he even shortened a trip to Cologne because he didn't want to be away from the Lido for too long!). He describes all its treasures: from the lifeguards, Sven and Johann, to fellow Lido enthusiasts, sometimes in rather tuneless songs, before branching into the history of London Lidos in general. All of this was very interesting, in a nerdy sort of way, but Fox then moves into other territories and media - showing us home videos of his Easyjet trip to Cork for example and, even more strangely, the inside of his (extremely messy) flat, as well as describing his self-deprecating forays into a Nigel Slater recipe for lentil soup.
Fox says from the outset that the piece is about sex, or the lack of it, but, again, this theme lacked any coherence. A bank-holiday weekend spent camping in the company of a gate-crashing friend was amusing enough, but could have packed more of an emotional punch than it did.
Fox's best assets are his dead-pan, soft-voiced delivery mixed with an open sincerity and a way of making the mundane sound funny and interesting. What is even more promising is the window into his life that he reveals. In a profession where performers often try to mask or cover up their true selves, he refreshingly lays himself bare. He could certainly channel these assets into an engaging performance, but he needs to decide, above all, what story he wishes to tell.