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The idiosyncratic comedian is back with his unique brand of comedy



Review: BILL BAILEY: EN ROUTE TO THE ROYAL OPERA HOUSE, Royal Opera House To the masses, Bill Bailey is now known as a Strictly Come Dancing winner, rather than the unique polymath he always has been.

Some members of the audience who come to see him on the strength of his win will be pleased with the Charleston he performed, but perhaps be surprised by his idiosyncratic style. Only Bailey could fit Polynesian tree snails, pulling a plastic bag from his dog's bottom and singing Coldplay's "Yellow" in Turkish into one show so seamlessly.

His show, En Route To Normal (renamed as En Route The Royal Opera House for these shows), contains masses of new material, although he continues his scathing attacks on Coldplay as usual.

Perhaps a little below par due to a cold, he starts with a savage attack on the current political figures, including a wonderful line about Priti Patel being like a praying mantis "without the self-doubt". Boris Johnson (or "the Milkybar Kid after 40 years of cocaine") will certainly be a loss to the comedic world when he leaves his current position.

After this, any conventions of a comedy show fall away. A few things don't quite work; a long section recalling his bizarre dreams fails to show all his trademark wit or intelligence. It is often said other people's dreams are not of interest to anyone else. Musings on Love Island, surely so full of material, don't really go anywhere.

Bailey's fans love his surreal style; like a stream of consciousness, rather than anything structured (although of course it is). Part of his charm is that he seems to ramble from topic to topic, often getting sidetracked. He also refuses to dumb down; it is brave performer who sings whole songs in Turkish and French to UK audiences, without any effort to translate.

Bailey has just walked 100 miles in memory of his friend, the comedian Sean Lock and created a touching musical tribute to him during the interval.

In Act II, Bailey gets into his stride with more musical comedy, with a previously seen skit, setting his walk around his house to a heavy-metal soundtrack. There is also a brilliant section on ragtime tunes, asking for audience requests and deftly jumping from Star Wars "Imperial March" to Motorshead's "Ace of Spades". His musical ear really is extraordinary.

A packed two hours flies by in an eclectic and incredibly entertaining way. A Bill Bailey show is anything but normal, and all the better for it.

Bill Bailey: En Route To The Royal Opera House is at the Royal Opera House until Sunday 13 August

Image Credit: Bill Bailey


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From This Author - Aliya Al-Hassan

Aliya Al-Hassan is UK Managing Editor of BroadwayWorld. A London-based theatre critic and journalist, she has a life-long passion for the arts, with a focus on theatre and opera. She is a... (read more about this author)

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