Lenny's rage against age

Lenny Henry @ Theatre Royal, Norwich.

Lenny Henry @ Theatre Royal, Norwich

By Warren Bull

Spiritual without being starchy, Lenny Henry managed to pull off a self-reflective show that married arthritis with adventure.

Right from the start this was a more fragile, deeper Lenny Henry, raging against his growing paunch and emotional response to Billy Elliot.

“You know you're getting older when the unnecessary nasal hair kicks in,” he joked.

The forty-something brought a darker, but also more hilarious spin on life than the Lenny Henry of old – from the racism of Prince Philip and old-style Afrikaners in South Africa, to his mother's funeral.

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Out of the locker of experience came his West Indian upbringing in Dudley: the geeky eight-year-old at blues parties watching his elder relatives make out, to getting a whack or extra dumplings from his mum to show she loved him.

Alongside these discoveries of childhood, Henry laid out his middle-aged adventures: scared witless in the Amazon, or throwing up on a boat with Tony Bullimore.

“He hasn't made me laugh so much since Hope and Glory,” he told us, in mock self-deprecation at the start. I found it his freshest material for years.

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