When You Fall Down: The Buster Keaton Story (3 stars)

This article is from 2018

When You Fall Down: The Buster Keaton Story

Buster Keaton musical lovingly covers the highs and lows of a Hollywood great

James Dangerfield's one man musical show When You Fall Down tells the story of an all time comedy great. More than simply a tribute to someone he's clearly in awe of, Dangerfield's show focuses on artistic integrity and the importance of sticking to a vision.

The show introduces Keaton – a seasoned stage performer from a young age – as someone suspicious of the camera. His conversion to the technology and his mastery of it follows shortly after, with the majority of the hour focusing on a ten-year period where Keaton made some of the most influential pictures of all time, ambitious and groundbreaking independent comedies.

Not satisfying the moneymen, those glory years ended with an ill-fated MGM partnership. Dangerfield is a terrific Keaton, bringing a wide-eyed sense of wonder to this intimate show. A song about The General and its iconic train chase scene is a highlight, and there's a change of pace of material about the decline of his marriage to Natalie Talmadge and the murder charges leveled against his mentor Roscoe Arbuckle. For the latter, Dangerfield focuses on Keaton's loyalty to his friend during this major Hollywood scandal.

The non-musical moments aren't as strong; unless you're in the front row, watching Dangerfield draw for a few minutes is a dull experience, and the pay off isn't worth it- but it's a minor complaint. When You Fall Down is an enjoyable hour. Fans of Buster Keaton will lap it up, and the uninitiated will find a new career to explore.

Pleasance Courtyard, until 27 Aug (not 14), 12.05pm, £9–£9.50 (£8–£9).

When You Fall Down: The Buster Keaton Story

  • 3 stars

The Buster Keaton story, in a show endorsed by the International Buster Keaton Society.