Posted by: lucylastic | January 27, 2011

The people of Swindon missed a treat!

Well, most of them did anyway.  Performing to a theatre less than a third full, the unstoppable Giles Brandreth was indeed a treat – I can’t remember when I last enjoyed a night at the theatre so much – 2 hours of laughter, tear making at times, always entertaining and not a hint of vulgarity or a swear word for miles.

If it hadn’t been for catching Michael Ball interviewing Giles on last Sunday’s Radio 2 brunch-time show, we wouldn’t even have known that Giles was anywhere near Swindon!  Despite being on the theatre mailing list, I have to admit that I flick through the catalogue when it arrives and then forget about it.  The programme is published 6 months ahead of time and I am not in the right frame of mind to sit and plan nights out that far in advance – does anyone?

Back to Giles – clever, witty, allegedly indiscreet, (but I don’t think he gave much away really), he is apparently 63 but seems to have had personal relationships with royalty, stars, politicians and hangers-on since the mid 1880’s!  Seated in the front row, I was at one point offered his hand to shake which turned out to be ‘the hand that has shaken the hand that shook the hand of the father of Oscar Wilde, (an old school headmaster of Wilde’s and Brandreth’s who lived to the ripe old age of 102.  A girl further along the front row was treated to ‘the hand that has shaken the hand of the father of the boy who held hands with Winnie the Pooh’, a reference to Giles’s friendship with author A.A. Milne and his son, the original ‘Christophen Robin’.

Although oft remembered for his outrageous woolly jumpers, there was no sign of one last night – (and apprently, Giles last wore one on television in 1990 – but memories are long), though it was referred to in the conext of being a ‘woolly headed insult’ levelled at Brandreth by none other than former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, (Giles himself was an MP for Chester from 1992 to 1997, during which time he ‘wholly despised’ his constituents, (allegedly).  If you ever thought the great British public made fun of politicians, little did we know how much more fun politicians make of us – hilarious.

If you get a chance to see this show, take it.  It’s worth every penny and deserves a much wider audience than it got in Swindon last night – a word of caution, if you’re under 40, you may well never have heard of many of the characters or the references – for example, brilliantly described as ‘like Twitter, but delivered on a bicycle’ when referring to a telegram, Giles made good use of a young lady in the front row to poke gentle fun at the young and also to flirt outrageously with.  I have to admit, if you’d asked me, I may have said that I thought Giles was gay, he’s certainly happy – but accompanied by his wife and with many references to his children and the fate of their various pets over the years, he painted a picture of a warm family man.  Camp certainly, and with a certain touch of ‘luvviness’ that was very endearing, but very much all man I thought!  And charming after the show when he signed copies of his book in the foyer.  I like him.

Things not to do at the Wyvern Theatre include taking advantage of the ‘special pre-show dining offers’ – served by a lacklustre girl, with no sense of urgency despite the impending curtain up.  Many elements of the menu claimed to be home-made – not sure whose home they were made in, but they are obviously a dab hand with even coatings of breadcrumbs and a deep fat fryer.  It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t good either – a curry round the corner at one of Swindon’s many Indian restaurants would have been a better and cheaper bet.  I also understnad why people sneak their own drinks into these events – with a G&T each before the show and another for the interval, we parted with the best part of £30 at the bar – note to self, diet coke next time!


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