REVIEW: Richard Herring brings silliness to Royal & Derngate, Northampton

Richard Herring

Richard Herring

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It was the third Monday of January yesterday. A day which people over the last few years have started to call Blue Monday. It is said to be miserable because Christmas has gone for the time being and it’s been a long time since the last pay day, it’s dark out a lot of the time, and cold, and grey, and wet.

Well it wasn’t so bad after all, because I had a nice pie at the theatre café, met up with a friend and went to see comedian Richard Herring’s new show, Lord of the Dance Settee, at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton.

Herring has tackled the big questions in the past - love, death, sex, politics, religion - but this time he claimed to have no real theme, and rather planned to go on more of a meander through some silly stories.

This did mean the subject matter jumped around a bit, from the power of the sombrero to cheer people up to the disturbing sight of a lifesize knitted doll staring out of a window, to the need to beware of viscous dogs (they’re so sticky and gooey).

But his mind works in a way I like. He recalled the day when his elderly great aunt, who was born in Victorian times, kissed him when he was a small boy. He explained that now there are, apparently, only five people still alive in the world who were born in the 19th century so if any of us want to kiss a Victorian, our options are much more limited.

What broadly tied it together though was his reflective frame of mind as he looked to his past and his future.

From schooldays he recalled the misunderstanding that gives the show its name. As a boy he misheard the words to the hymn Lord of the Dance, believing they indicated that Jesus liked to dance on a settee. This easily happens when you’re a child and just joining in with the singing as best you can. I had a similar misunderstanding over the opening line of the carol We Three Kings. I always thought the words indicated the three kings were from two places, called Orrie and Tar.

Herring has developed a wonderfully wordy style, relishing a love of language as the anecdotes pour forth in a torrent, referencing John Donne and quoting Paul Weller. Comic delivery and timing is like an instrument in the right hands and he knows when to belt it out and when to pause. And he has the right amount of silly, which is what you need on the third Monday of January.