Tom Allen: Life / Style
Frustratingly mediocre Edinburgh Festival Fringe show with hints of refreshing sincerity
This article is from 2014.
Tom Allen has built a persona for himself over successive years at the Fringe. He’s camp and catty, smooth one minute and scathing the next as he delivers personal tales with a knowingly arched eyebrow and a deliberately cocked hip. This year he takes a trip down memory lane with anecdotes from and observations on his childhood.
There’s some good stuff buried in the first three quarters, about the tortures of primary school gym class, his penchant for Victorian attire and a brilliantly observed bit about a foot stool, but it is not enough to enliven a mediocre 45 minutes.
What makes this extra frustrating is the final quarter. Allen addresses gay issues in a way that is refreshing and adroit. Instead of expecting the mere fact of his sexuality to act as a punchline in itself (as is all too often the case with some other comedians) he takes the stereotype of a theatrical gay man as a starting point. The result comes across as sincere and original, especially his theory on the function of campness in gay society, hinting that Allen is capable of a better show than the one he delivered.
The Stand V, 667 7533, until 24 Aug (not 11), 4.15pm, £8 (£7).