‘I’ve just turned fifty, the kids have left home and my cat just died.’ Taking up residency at the King’s Head Theatre, Islington, Madness frontman Suggs has embarked on an ambitious attempt to convey 30 years of life experience in a sprawling, all-encompassing monologue.
It was impossible not to be charmed by this one man show which begins with the morning of his fiftieth birthday. Bringing elements of physical and musical comedy he takes you from his days skipping school and fighting rival gangs through to the dizzying heights of his '80s fame.
Then, with the palpable sense of humour and endearing humility he maintains throughout, he delves in to his less successful show business ventures. This is not a show that merely satisfies the ardent Madness fans – his expert story telling gives a social-historical insight in to growing up in 1970s London, whisking you from his North London roots to the Shed End via Soho. Underpinning this autobiographical journey there’s the emotionally touching account of the search for his absent father reaching far beyond a story of just fame and riches.
His musical accompaniment comes in the form of his ‘pianist-cum-man servent’ who adds a delightful soundtrack with a few Madness classics and some extra surprises slotted in perfectly. The entire show verges on just the right side of nostalgia and sentimentality, culminating in a somewhat predictable but wholly welcome finale, which is worth the ticket price alone.