Richard Carpenter is Close to You review at Underbelly, Edinburgh – ‘pitch-perfect parody’
Review by Paul Vale published by The Stage on August 14th 2017
When Matthew Floyd Jones steps out on to the stage and starts singing a reworked medley of The Carpenter's greatest hits, you have to wonder how much mileage there is in this.
Richard Carpenter is Close to You is not a biography, however, but a satirical parody examining the purgatory of being the ‘less talented other sibling’. Living constantly in the shadow of his naturally gifted dead sister Karen takes its toll on the outwardly upbeat Richard. He is reduced to a life of opening shopping malls and fielding questions about Karen while plugging his solo album.
Floyd Jones ruthlessly parodies the artist's smooth Californian drawl, squeezed into inconceivably snug hipster pants, white wedges and topped with an appropriately incongruous 1970s bob. A uniquely talented performer, Floyd Jones plays piano, saxophone, clarinet and percussion to create numbers such as Stormy Nights and Thursdays, but this also adds to the isolation and loneliness that underpin the character.
The comic numbers may be expertly constructed, but the physical comedy is just as strong here, and Floyd Jones is hilarious as he teeters precariously on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Yet despite the pain, it's actually an endearingly sympathetic portrayal and Floyd Jones' ultimate message is one of self-worth and self-acceptance.