9th November was a very dark day for me. I don’t need to explain why but you’ll understand why I needed an antidote to the extreme right-wing lemons that life had just given us all. And who better to alleviate that depression than a left-wing anarchist? Or, to reuse my Facebook joke, left-wing EdmondAde.
Not that “Bits of Me are Falling Apart” is Adrian Edmondson’s most anarchic work – far from it. In fact his character. William. seems a middle-aged middle-of-the-roader in most respects. And in some ways, this show was also a touch depressing. But there’s much that is wonderful about seeing a comedy legend live in the flesh and every facial expression that he had a hint of Vivian about it filled me with joy.
The play is a one-man show currently running at the Soho Theatre where, co-incidentally, Edmondson’s daughter Beattie is about to appear too, with the Birthday Girls. It’s about William’s midlife crisis so I was surprised when we walked in and the set was adorned with colourful children’s toys, suspended from the ceiling – there was even a whole Wendy House. The PA system was cheerfully playing something that I suspect was a “They Might be Giants” album. Was this definitely not a kids’ show? I had my doubts. I even checked the tickets a few times to make sure we were in the right place because this didn’t seem like it was the setting for a 75-minute monologue on the grim realities of ageing. But it was. He walked on stage and it was very definitely Adrian Edmondson. Hence the hints-of-Vivian facial expressions.
William is a man in a rut. His relationship has broken up, he only sees his son sporadically and his body is – as the title suggests – slowly decaying. It would take a lot of talent to make this material funny and constantly interesting but of course it was. Not always uplifting – there were plenty of moments of drama and wistful reflection – but always engaging. There were diversionary anecdotes about the Norse, the life cycle of the cod, the D-Day landings and even a mention of Donald Trump, which elicited a nervous laugh from the still-raw audience.
The use of the props was interesting too – everything came into play at some point, with the Wendy House representing the spike in the housing market, a Beano used as a newspaper and a colourful vTech laptop as William’s work computer. There was even an analogy to do with arteries and balls of fat, portrayed by those spiky, light up plastic balls that work as playthings for both dogs and toddlers. He came back to them a few times, as a recurring metaphor on the state of his health.
Occasionally it all verges into the dour, but for the most part, William is just about likeable to sympathise with and there’s a lot here that will strike a chord with anyone who is feeling the inevitable creep of later life. The ending becomes more positive as William learns to break through a few of his own self-imposed barriers and I left the theatre feeling ever so slightly better about life. And on 9th Nov 2016 that’s quite an achievement.
“Bits of Me are Falling Apart” is on at the Soho Theatre until 3rd Dec. See here for tickets and more info.
Disclaimer: I received free tickets for this show in exchange for my review. All opinions remain honest and my own.