NATIONAL treasure for over 20 years, Al Murray’s trademark beer taps stood before a backdrop of a world-war-two-propaganda-esque portrait of his alter ego The Pub Landlord on the Lowry stage. Our reporter Natalie Rees went along for the ride.
Rather fittingly, the Publican turned Politician comes to the show on a mission, to dump the divide left by Brexit and stop the progress, taking us back to “the good old days”.
The Pub Landlord stomped on stage in appropriate fashion, wearing his trademark red jacket and white shirt, with a glass of beer in hand ready to launch his crusade of common sense.
The opening audience backchat was expectedly funny, with the landlord’s no nonsense old school brashness leaving those beneath him following his every command, and those in the rows behind quite glad of their further position.
After spending slightly too long mocking the various occupations and marital arrangements of those in the bravest seats, the barman’s main material felt a little overdue.
Murray began by reminding the audience that his character’s campaign extended further than the stand up, as the Landlord gained 318 votes after running against Nigel Farage for the seat of South Thanet in 2015. After pulling another pint and subsequently soaking the front row with it, he had all in attendance chanting ‘family’ and ‘friendship’ to re-iterate his persona’s traditional values.
The loud mouthed lothario remained particularly interested in the women in the front circle – topping up their drinks after sending their partners to the bar.
The theme of gender continued to arise throughout the night, as he discussed how men struggle to understand the opposing gender by fearing emotion and steering away from feeling, embodying traditional English masculinity.
Brexit seems to have fallen to the strengths of the Pub Landlord, with Murray able to sink his teeth further into the patriotic waves sweeping the country, questioning the troubling and changing times which the country finds itself in.
The first act revolved around the messages sent out by the Leave campaign and Murray, who studied Modern History at Oxford, seemingly slips out of character to ferociously mock the notion of June 23rd as ‘Independence Day’, declaring that the Romans were the first to ‘take our jobs’.
The first half of the show closes with a song devised by the comedian’s alter ego, who encourages the audience to join in with a chorus of ‘I read it on the internet, it really must be true’.
— Kate Rogers (@badnewsrogers) October 16, 2016
Perhaps uncomfortable at times, Murray discusses the troubles in the Middle East and the threat of ISIS before expressing the Landlord’s far from PC views on transgender and gay people.
In a welcome light hearted turn, the second act ends with Murray taking a verbal stand against the takeover of technology, expressing that if he were to die in a plane crash, he would rather the pilot be human and not a robot.
The set finishes with another unnecessary sing along, a tune probably at home in an episode of Dad’s Army, mixing the title of the show with a verse of ‘Rule Britannia!’
Overall, Murray gives a predictably funny take on the world around him but may have missed the mark on a circumstance which could have been perfect for The Pub Landlord.
By Natalie Rees