Alistair McGowan takes a rather baffling trip inside the composer's eccentric mind
This article is from 2016.
With radio documentaries and a BBC Prom on the composer to his name, comedian and actor Alistair McGowan is fast becoming the go-to man for all things Satie. He's accepted seeing reflections between the musician's eccentricities – this was the composer who notoriously ate only white food, had identical suits for every day of the week, and wrote 'pieces in the form of a pear' – and his own status as a bit of an outsider in the world of showbiz.
That personal connection is more than evident in his Satie-themed Fringe solo show, for which he's concocted a free-wheeling script from the composer's bizarre writings (from self-pitying moans about his poverty to unsuitable advice for child musicians), as well as playing a broad selection of Satie's piano music – and a fine, sensitive pianist he is, too.
You're warned at the start in Satie's stentorian tones that what follows might leave you behind intellectually – but the show's problem is really its lack of context or explanation for much of what you're seeing or hearing. But McGowan is an effortlessly charismatic performer nonetheless, and together with the elaborate staging – especially some beautifully rippling animated projections – makes this a beguiling, if sometimes baffling hour inside the strange mind of Erik Satie.
Pleasance Courtyard, 5–28 Aug (not 16, 23), £15–£16.50 (£14–£15).