Pros: Side-splittingly funny!
Cons: Some acts are more polished than others.
First on stage is a guy with a floral dressing gown and a wind machine, most recognisable as a desk fan. He’s there for an audition and he’s a little ashamed to admit that he has just turned forty. The only thing he really can’t take, though, is the insinuation that his hair is not blond but ginger. Strawberry blond is the term he uses, and he refuses to hear that G-word again!
During a musical insert, the camp fellow becomes a tacky Goldilocks from Essex who requires the help of the public and invites them to ‘shut the frock up’ before testing the lap of few men in the auditorium. As an unseemly choral singer, Carroll relies entirely on the comic effect of mime and the strategy works, although I feel like the act could be developed further. As a straight Australian man giving line dancing classes on board a cruise ship, and really happy to engage with the public, Carroll’s impersonation is quite loyal, thanks to his years spent in Sydney but, in this case too, the jokes could benefit from a little tightening.
Other characters include a mischievous nun locked in a public toilet, who steals the scene with her naughty behaviour, and a rather confused English Duke, who is a guest of the Women’s Institute for a convention about beekeeping; his frail demeanour and Tourette’s have the audience in stitches. My favourite sequence starts with a pigeon chase and subsequent remonstration with someone called Brian. The speaker expresses all his frustration at being treated like a child despite his forty years of age, and his real identity is deliberately kept under wraps until the final whimsical twist. It is clear that our actor has an impressive spirit of observation that reaches beyond the realms of humankind.
Carroll, who has been performing since the age of ten, confidently carries out all the costume changes on stage. When a familiar tune starts playing loud, he unwillingly lets himself go with a saucy striptease which ends unexpectedly behind a red curtain. Seconds later, a rapper called Penge West appears with a hip-hop song about Henry VIII, which is definitely one of the highlights, presented by a skilled and uninhibited entertainer.
The cherry on the top of this irreverent riot of preposterous characters is the man himself, offering to sing some popular musical hits where a word has been subtly swapped with a different one.Every transition between sketches is supported by a complete mastery of facial expressions and body language which seem to belong to a boundless repertoire. Paul Carroll is a true showman. His enthusiasm is infectious and the piles of energy and sweat he brings on stage are rewarded with tears of laughter shed copiously by the audience throughout his side-splitting Forty Shades of Strawberry Blond. Recommended for a quality night out.
Author: Paul Carroll and Trudy Hodgson
Director: Trudy Hodgson
Booking Information: This show has now completed its run