Theatre Critic and Journalist

Review: Jonny Sweet – Mostly About Arthur

Review: Jonny Sweet – Mostly About Arthur

Published on Culture Wars, 24.02.2010

That Mostly About Arthur is mostly funny because of Jonny Sweet’s adopted persona, rather than the craft of his material about his fictional older brother Arthur, is probably ironic somehow. It’s also a very common syndrome amongst emergent comedians. While Sweet suggests very promising future, his debut show – which saw him steal away from this summer’s Edinburgh Fringe with the Best Newcomer award – is too untamed and haphazard to fully satisfy.

Here, armed with a standard issue clunky clip-art and google-image slideshow, Sweet sets about eulogising Arthur, seeking “a slumber-party vibe” to do so. So begins a journey from the school corridors of Filey, in which Arthur would receive high-five after high-five, through a celebrated career as “the best blurbist of his generation” and the face of Outlook Express: a trajectory that would ultimately end in controversy and, later, tragedy.

In reality, though, Arthur is little more than a construct that enables Sweet to jumble together a string of random titbits. Here the emphasis is on the zany, the surreal and the non-sequitur. Anything remotely sensible is off-limits in a set that hops from death by dog to games of Pear Touch (essentially touch the pear without touching the pear).

Indiscriminate and meandering it may be, but Sweet just about manages to pull it together somehow. Perched firmly on the spectrum, he fidgets his way around the stage, shattering social conventions and manhandling his audience like a safari chimpanzee. Everything is over-familiar, from the speech peppered with public school anachronisms to the padding touch and the gently slobbered kisses imprinted on foreheads. That on the night I saw him, Sweet easily handled a ten-minute break in proceedings, due to a technical hitch with his projector, is symptomatic of the strength of character over material.

All of which bodes well. With a tighter focus of script and, perhaps, more control of character, Sweet could become a deftly anarchic absurdist.

Photograph: Johnny Sweet

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>