Sayle billows out in style

Alexei Sayle @ Norwich Arts Centre

Alexei Sayle @ Norwich Arts Centre


When someone as successful as the savage Scouse comedian Alexei Sayle tries to make it in another chancy and equally spot-lit profession, people are suspicious. Can he do it and if he does, will we still like him?

It is a relief to be able to say that Barcelona Plates, Sayle's collection of short stories performed at the arts centre, lavishes on fans the same surreal, angst-laden fizz that marks his stand-up style. These are unlikely yarns where action is driven by peculiar and often violent acts of fate which make the final twists impossible to predict.

His satire is a scathing as ever, with the baddies – media types and north Londoners – getting the comeuppances they deserve while the ordinary, common-or-garden eccentricities dive into the deep end of chaos either through simple curiosity or bad luck – a holidaymaker falls into a bin and uncovers the sinister slave-driven underworld that powers Disneyland.

Sayle's trademark sarcasm and excellent comic timing more than make up for moments where ideas are over-packed on the page.

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But he savours these small observational asides with glee. They are invariably silly but spot-on – a devastated man walks “straight” home through brick walls and other people's front rooms, a woman behind a counter is “like a joke wife of a vicar”.

There can be no doubt that Alexei Sayle has burst through to the upper rungs of the literary ladder and even though he now lives in London, thankfully his social conscience and steely humour have come with him.