Julian Clary, Bath Theatre Royal 7/10
JULIAN Clary is something of an English gem. He's been famous now since the late Eighties and in those 23 or so years he's published four books, fronted many TV shows, toured extensively as a stand-up, been a panto favourite, was runner-up on Strictly Come Dancing in 2004, and won Celebrity Big Brother a few months ago. But despite not being in the public eye constantly – he remains popular and incredibly likeable.
I saw one of Julian's one-man shows about 20 years ago (in which he was brilliant), so had high hopes as I headed to the Theatre Royal in Bath for Position Vacant: Apply Within.
Julian ("camp comic and renowned homosexual") appeared on stage looking fabulous in a pink sparkling jacket, black shimmering trousers, a red bowler hat and lots of make-up. He's also on stilts, and the reason? To give him a better "vantage point" to find a husband from the audience. Which, after splitting up with long-term partner Rolf, is the aim of the show.
Then it's innuendo after innuendo. I'd forgotten how many double entendres Julian can fit into one sentence, let alone a whole show. Half the audience seem to be lapping it up, the others are a little subdued. Have we heard it all before or do we need to loosen up a bit?
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In the first half, we get to know Bertha the lesbian stagehand, learn that Blue Nun is sponsoring the show and get told some Celebrity Big Brother gossip, while Julian also gives an audience member a Mastermind- type grilling on Bath.
On to the second half and it's like a different show. Here Julian picks seven potential suitors from the audience with a "stun gun", they get rounded into a pen ("mincers' meadow" – brilliant) and then, one by one, they answer a question and take part in a challenge to help Julian choose who he wants to marry. The results are hilarious. Julian delivers his unique deadpan putdowns over and over, and it's very funny. Mr Clary at his best – that's what I came to see.