Terry Arlarse was one of the breakout characters of dearly departed Liverpool sketch comedy trio, the Legion of Doom. Co-founder Lee Hithersay has taken up the mantle and run with Terry – a Scouse performance poet who is basically part Rik from the Young Ones, part Yozza Hughes.
Now, Terry is evolving from five-minute sketch fodder into something more substantial. With 60 minutes to play with, the show can be split and changed into elements of poetry, monologue, improv, surreality and just plain old audience participation, so things don’t get dull. Opinionated, intense, and comically anti-social, his first poem – Get Some Perspective, You Bell – sets the mood. Basically, Terry Arlarse is the kind of bloke you see getting on the bus and pray sits next to someone else.
The hour is set at the launch of Arlarse’s latest anthology, Terry ‘Cross the Mersey. Prompted by a whiteboard of topics to discuss (capitalism, Putin and so on), and a handful of post-it notes from his manager on how to conduct himself during the event, our protagonist squirms, rants and antagonises his way through the ordeal. And as he barks out deadpan anti-Thatcher rhetoric and poems about checkout girls, the challenge for Hithersay is doing something interesting with what would seem to be a bit of a dated, not especially original conceit.
Fortunately though he is a naturally funny performer and there is plenty of good material for him to be getting on with. With Art in Your Mind, little touches here and there really start to flesh out Terry’s world in an interesting way. Stories of his (long-suffering) manager and (long-suffering) former boss ring true, and the hints at a darker past are played for laughs but also intriguing. Alongside the joyously daft puns and ludicrous poetry there’s a convincing detail to it all. There is plenty of potential in Terry’s exploits, and his current stint at the Edinburgh Fringe should see this act develop nicely.
Art in Your Mind is on at the Southsider until August 19. For more info, see the show’s Facebook page.