Arthur Smith: Syd

Arthur Smith’s 2017 offering (‘Arthur Smith Sings Leonard Cohen’) was far and away my favourite Fringe show that year. 2018’s follow up comes very close to doing the same.

The show is a sweet and poignant look at Smith’s eponymous father, using the man’s own attempt at a memoir as material. The show alters between monologues from the viewpoint of Syd, reminiscences by Arthur of his father, a few musical numbers, and some small acted portions. Each is so beautifully and charmingly done, and even if the laughs are never raucous, one fails to find a moment when they aren’t entirely caught up in the show.

One particularly pleasing moment sees Smith and his backing vocalists/musicians reading some of Syd’s own old pub jokes, drawn at random from a bingo roller. It is such a ridiculously nice idea, and a wonderful tribute to a man who clearly passed his sense of humour to his son. The songs chosen as well are taken from Syd’s desert island disc choices, and are performed beautifully by Arthur and his cohorts, managing to to be sentimental without being overly so.

There is just so much to love about this show, and the fact that it clearly means so much to Smith to be able to pay tribute to his dad in this way only adds to the occasion, really drawing you in and making you feel like you know the man. There are so many shows at the festival with so little thought or emotion put into the writing, that it such an overwhelming breath of fresh air to see comedy that really means something to the person performing it.

This show will make you smile, will make you laugh, at times make you a little bit sad, and maybe even make you want to give your own old man a bell. The only thing it won’t make you want to do is leave. A fantastic hour.


Syd runs until the 19th of August –

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Scott Redmond

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