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Review: Richard Carpenter is Close to You – Underbelly Wee Coo, Edinburgh

Rating: ★★★★★

Review by  R. G. Balgray published by The Reviews Hub on August 11th 2017

What must it be like to be “the other one”; to have your own genius, exceptional in its own right, but be outstarred, outshone, outeverythinged by your closest other? This is the territory marked out by Matthew Floyd Jones, so far best-known as one half of Frisky and Mannish, in his star turn in Richard Carpenter is Close to You at the Underbelly, George Square (The Wee Coo).

The conceit goes as follows: Richard, long, long after Karen’s death, is trapped in the Purgatorium, where artistes are doomed to spend their eternity in endless performance. Wait a minute – doesn’t that sound a touch…unhappy? Yes. But what follows, for the sell-out audience, is also laugh-out-loud hilarious. Not in poking fun at sibling rivalry though –there is little detail of it here. For Richard’s hell is firstly a frenetic display of his many talents. Cue much knockabout. But also much comic gold, as the songs themselves, the soundtracks of our lives (copyright forbidding lyrics as performed) take over. Cue the subversion of talent by pastiche. Then, the inevitable consequences of success, and the demands of promotion. Matthew Floyd Jones achieves something rare: sympathy for Richard, an aching sense of the sadness, but above all laughter at its ridiculousness – all achieved with a hugely commendable lightness of touch. The smiles on the faces of the audience as they left said it all.

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