This review was originally published on Fringe Review on 16 August 2019
The Reverend Richard Coles, pop star, media personality and dancer brings his very English sermon to this Edinburgh parish. A telling of some of the most important moments in a life that touched many of the key cultural events of the last forty years. Its told with humour, pathos and delivers a beautiful slice of Englishness to a receptive congregation.
Combining the unusual traits of being a world conquering popstar, media personality, dancer and country parish vicar, the Reverend Richard Coles is here to tell us how it all happened. This is an autobiographical account of Richards life, rather than a conventional stand up show, although its inclusion in the Comedy section is well merited.
Richard has had a long and varied media career, which some think culminated with his appearance on Strictly Come Dancing. His audience, which would appear to be a tad above the average age for a Fringe crowd, seem to be drawn from the more genteel and cultured end of the spectrum.
They have come to hear how Richard went from a child chorister and English public school boy, to a member of the iconic eighties bands Bronski Beat and The Communards. He left music to join the Church as an ordained minister, which he now combines with a successful media career. He has become a television personality, columnist, panel guest, dancer and his journey continues.
He illustrates these different phases of his life with anecdotes, stories and insights. Richard has a light touch and as you would expect from an experienced presenter, a warm and engaging delivery style.
The framing of the show is chronological, giving the piece a logical progression. The stories are interesting and the punchlines to gags, jokes and comments are well delivered. There are names dropped, aplenty, although you don’t notice this until he points out that it is going to happen. The names mentioned are not done so in an egotistical fashion. Interestingly, in a show so manifestly about himself there is no sense of an ego at work.
His choir were appreciative. The show was well received, and everyone went away happy. We had all spent a very pleasant hour in good company.
However, there is an issue with trying to encapsulate an entire life into 55 minutes. By necessity details are skipped over. A longer show would allow for more depth. There were significant points, at the crux of some key cultural changes that merited further exploration, a comment that also applies to incidents in his personal life. I wanted to know more, to understand better how these changes came about and what they meant to him.
This is a very pleasant hour, delivered by a very nice chap who has had an interesting and privileged life. There is no heavy thinking required as his voice washes over you. The show is very English in its structure and appeal.
It is a slice of a very particular and privileged life that touched on key moments in recent cultural history. Richard delivers his sermon with humour and pathos and the congregation applaud warmly. Tea and scones would have finished the afternoon off perfectly. The show is recommended.