Review – Edinburgh Fringe 2013 – Brian Appleton

Brian Appleton’s History of the World in Three Darts

Pleasance Dome

5 – 11 Aug 20:20


“I’m not infallible,” Brian Appleton conceded, after telling a long and rambling story about something that definitely never happened. It’s rare that he admits he may not entirely have the facts right. In Appleton’s world of apocryphal tall-tales, the “facts” aren’t quite as interesting as his own opinions on medieval history, or just where The Smiths got all their ideas. Brian Appleton is a rock musicologist and part-time lecturer in Media Studies. He is also the comedy creation of Graham Fellows, the man behind cult national treasure John Shuttleworth. Both characters share certain traits; both are frustrated musicians and have a slightly inflated ego, but with Appleton, it’s his bitterness that sets him apart from the perennially amiable Shuttleworth.

Appleton claims to have had an influence on all rock and roll music since the sixties, sometimes accidentally, and never feels like he gets enough credit for this. Ostensibly this is a show about the history of the world, but he can never tear himself away from the subject of his unfair dealings with the rock world for long. He is also obsessed with darts messiah Eric Bristow, for some reason.

It helps to be familiar with Fellow’s characters before seeing them in action. For many fans, Appleton’s various tics and mutterings will be funnier than any obvious laugh-line. There was a sense that some in the audience weren’t quite sure what was so humorous about it all. Several minutes can pass before there’s a big laugh, but when the gags landed, they landed hard. Fellow’s creations are something of an acquired taste, but those attuned to his gentle humour will find much to enjoy.


Stuart Addison

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