Town Hall, Birmingham
My first experience of the ginormous, booming personality that is Brian Blessed involved him dressed as a rotund, fluffy cat! Old Deuteronomy in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats was the show he was appearing in and I don’t think anybody else has been able to touch the paw print he has made on the role. I’ve also read numerous articles about his mountaineering exploits and, as a mother, I am familiar with his voicing of Grampy Rabbit in Peppa Pig and Eduardo Enormomonster in Henry Hugglemonster for Disney Junior.
An evening with this extraordinary gentleman promised to be informative, fascinating and barmy. It was all of those things and more. It’s difficult to believe that he is 82 years old. The energy and joie de vivre he brought to the stage was immense. Peppered with the odd expletive and belch, we were taken on a journey through Blessed’s life and career, and it was one hell of a ride.
Blessed has one of the most unique and easily identifiable voices, it lends itself to storytelling like no other and he drew the audience in. There were times when you could almost hear a pin drop. It was a joy to hear about his childhood, growing up with Patrick Stewart whom he does a remarkable impersonation of. Equally fascinating to learn of his first encounter with Coronation Street legend, Bill Roache, who was renowned in the repertory company where Blessed was a member. Add his unwavering teasing of John Gielgud to the mix and I could barely contain my mirth.
It was certainly an evening well spent in the company of a truly marvellous multi-talented man, and in case you’re wondering, there’s not long to wait until he shouts out the much-anticipated line “Gordon’s Alive!!!”