Mick Sergeant is our best and most sympathetic vein-popper since Basil Fawlty, says Ben Clover.
Pretty much from the beginning actor Lee Fenwick takes you somewhere very funny, even if it is life as an unemployed Tyneside shipwright. The comedy comes out of his rage at being left on the scrapheap.
Sergeant is hilarious without ever letting you lose sight completely of the devastating effect joblessness has had. The basic contention is that the rest of Britain has now caught up with him. He believes it should be him on telly advising the newly unemployed how to adapt to the new world because he was doing it before it became fashionable. And he makes a strong case, why is Location, Location, Location still on with unemployment at 2.4million? He’d certainly make for a more entertaining half-hour.
The 49-year-old has an authority at least equal to his name/rank and this gravitas deployed in a silly re-working of a children’s story or party game works brilliantly.
The moustache might have something to do with it as well. It’s the kind you no longer see outside archive newsreel of industrial unrest. But it’s mainly the intensity.
I don’t think Britain has had so good and so sympathetic a vein-popper since Basil Fawlty, and that’s a sincere compliment. At the risk of sounding soft the mime sequence he does at the end changed gears from comedy to poignancy so smoothly it could have been Richard Pryor. Richard Pryor if he’d been a 49-year-old jobless shipwright, but hey, that’s still well worth seeing.
And he did all of this in the early afternoon, upstairs in a pub. Once the Edinburgh weather turns rainy it’ll feel even more like Newcastle.
Mick Sergeant – Lifeboat is on until August 30 (except 17) at 2.55pm at the Stand II. Click here for tickets.