Charles Barrington in one character or less
Charles Barrington @ The Tuxedo Cat – Alley Cat
8:30pm, Fri 1 Mar 2013
This Friday was, in retrospect, an exercise in too-tight scheduling: and, after Sylvie ran long, I wound up running from Festival Theatre up to TuxCat, ducking into the Alley Cat around ten minutes late. There was little more than a handful of other people in the room; Charles Barrington spotted me as I tried to slink in, and his dry admonishment encouraged the audience to turn and watch me enter the room.
“I apologise, Charles Barrington,” I offered as I slid into my seat.
He smiled: “Charles Barrington accepts your apology.”
It’s fair to say that not much has changed with Charles Barrington since I first met him. All the character traits are still there: the pompous sense of superiority, hidden behind ugly stubble and a suave seventies veneer, is still strangely endearing. Some of the material was familiar, too; his much-built-up bee joke was sadistically milked for laughs after an almost-too-long pause.
The other seven people in the audience – all in one social group – could have been the worst audience imaginable; they were more than happy to engage (or attempt to engage) in conversation with Charles Barrington, and provided an outspoken running commentary throughout. They could have been the worst audience… but, in the context of this performance, it totally worked. After Barrington expressed surprise that he failed to get an uproarious reaction from his bartender joke – “that joke was gold, my friends” – the immediate retort was “so – when does it start?” And when a joke died, Charles Barrington would address the group, and attempt to explain the joke… “no, we got it” they’d say, which had Barrington pausing momentarily before exploding “My name is Charles Barrington, goodnight!” and feigning his exit from the stage.
That happened about five times. And it kept getting more and more laughs.
On another night, I could imagine that this performance would be deemed the bombiest show that ever bombed… but there didn’t seem to be any animosity from the audience. And, even if they were laughing at the performer in Andy Rodgers (as opposed to his creation), Charles Barrington was more than happy to chuckle along… and that made it a comically surreal exercise in self-deprecation.
— Pete Muller (@festivalfreakAU) March 1, 2013