Lenny Henry: – From Cradle to Rave

Lenny Henry is an institution in the British entertainment industry. I first saw him as a teenager on ‘New Faces’ talent programme and later as one of the mainstays in the iconic Saturday morning show Tiswas and also as one third of ‘Three of a Kind’ in conjunction with David Copperfield and Tracey Ullman.
I have also seen him perform live on a couple of occassions over the years, but his profile has dropped somewhat recently if you ignore appearances on a TV advert for a hotel chain.
Yet Henry is currently on tour with his latest show and the bandwagon rolled into Dunfermline’s Alhambra Theatre last night. Unfortunately for him and everybody the space was anything but full, and maybe this detracted from the atmosphere. However Henry didn’t seem to be too phazed by this. This giant of a man launched straight into his show aided and abetted with references to his life and the music that punctuated it. The show is in essence a commentary of his life, told with amusing but true anecdote from this life from his chilhood in Dudley up to his first public apperance at a local ballroom diring the first segment, and his more successful part of his life after it.
Henry claims that all comedians are frustrated singers and he is no exception. He also wants to be a comedian and of course is a TV personality. He does have a pretty good singing voice, something he illustrates frequently throughout the two hours he is on stage. He relates the tale of a meeting with pop guru at the time Trevor Horn in an effort to obtain a recording deal. this was not forthcoming because Horn said he was toying with a musical carreer, not being totally committed to it. I feel that maybe his wish to diversify has had a detrimental affect on his comedy too.
There is no doubting he has presence, and personality to spare, but I feel the material, although amusing at times, was not up to the required standard, and certainly not up to quality of previous shows I’ve seen. There were times when there was only an embarassed giggle of laughter to some of this material.
The enevitable false encore saw him joined by a band giving him a chance to display his vocal talents. It was not funny songs that he played, but straight variety singing, demanding the crowd waved their arms, even forcing them to their feet to dance around, something they were somewhat reticent in doing.
I’m sure that there are few to rival him in his versatlility, but for me, this show came across as a bit jack of all trades, and was trying to cover too many bases. Sorry Lenny, I know you can do better.
For all future productions at the Alhambra check out their website www.alhambradunfermline.co.uk for details
 
Reviewed by Geoff
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