Friday, 30 April 2010

Phil Cool at the Trinity Theatre Tunbridge Wells

Phil Cool On Tour
Trinity Theatre
Royal Tunbridge Wells
30 April 2010

I don't want to review the theatre rather than Phil Cool but it would be wrong not to give this magnificent theatre and its hard working, voluntary, staff a mention.

Trinity Theatre, Royal Tunbridge Wells
This is a superb church conversion. The outside of the building retains its architectural beauty. Yet inside is a superb, modern, 279 seat auditorium with an impressive sized stage. It's like a religious Tardis stepping from old into new and into a world which has made remarkable use of space.

By clever design each of the 279 seats has an incredible view of the stage, each seat being a good height above the seat in front so your view is not obstructed. A good amount of leg room too. It's not only the first time I've been to see a theatrical performance in a "church" but also the first time I've sat on the stage. Yes the front row is actually on the stage. A quite unique experience. By taking advantage of using as much of the building's height as possible there is room for a considerable sized area to enjoy refreshments before and after the show, a box office, toilets and room for prop storage / artist changing etc. It's a bit corny but going to this old religious building really is a revelation. It won't be our last visit. For more information see

Anyway about Mr Cool! It's 11 years since we last saw Phil on tour. That was at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill in 1999.

"Faceologist" Phil has always been a master of facial expression, impression and comedy but I think he has got even better as he has got older.

With election fever at the moment it would be quite easy to have expected Phil to give this show a political impersonation bias. But no. This show has a fantastic amount of variety. Yes politicians crop up with John Major and Gordon Brown being amongst the targets. Nice to see a bit of George Bush bashing too in a scene that is hilarious. Old favourite Rolf Harris got a massive cheer.

In fact whilst this was not a sell out by any means there was cheering and laughter throughout from a very appreciative crowd.

A word of warning about the Trinity Theatre though. Actress Louise Jameson had previously advised us that the nature of this building means the acoustics are superb. She wasn't joking as one woman who tutted at one of Phil's jokes found out to her horror. In most theatres a simple tut would only be heard by the audience members around you, not at the Trinity. Phil was immediately able to identify not only the area the woman was sitting but to be able to spot her exactly.

Yes I guess some people who have had a sense of humour bypass may take offence at the odd line or two (his excellent late Keith Floyd act comes to mind) but you aren't going to please all of the people all of the time.

Phil Cool 2010 after being Photoshopped to death to get this back in focusWhy do I reckon Phil has got better with age? I don't know really. Perhaps it's because as he has got older the face of the "stand up chameleon" has become even more impressively elastic? Or perhaps it's the extreme diversity of the act with everything from Jo Brand to an underwater nature programme being part of the repertoire?

Whatever it is, it is working and Phil Cool needs to keep on doing it. I hope it's not another 11 years before he comes back down this way, especially as the photo we took came out exceedingly rubbish and out of focus and I have had to Photoshop it to death to rescue even this pathetic result. 11 years will be a long time to wait for another photo opportunity and to enjoy another outstanding 1 hour and 40 minutes of hilarity.

As Phil finished his encore a young female plea came from the audience "Oh please do your alien impression!" Only too pleased to oblige Phil returned to the stage, scrunched that famous face once more, and created a creature even Spielberg would be proud of. As he left with his alien wave the audience screamed their appreciation.

Phil? He's still Cool!!!!
5 out of 5 for Phil Cool

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