Wednesday 11 October 2017

My Review: An Evening with Robin Askwith!

It's not often I spend my Tuesday evenings hearing stories about such diverse figures as Peter O'Toole, Frank Bruno, Charlotte Rampling and Sid James. Who could possibly link these people? Who else but Mr Robin Askwith.

I joined an audience of friends and fans to take in the splendour of Robin in full flight last night at the gorgeous Phoenix Artist Club at the Phoenix Theatre in London's Charing Cross Road. As an aside, if you get the chance do check this little club out - it's one of London's hidden gems and well worth a visit whether there's a show on or not. The Misty Moon Events team have an ongoing relationship with the club and I've visited several times in the past to see Fenella Fielding's mesmerising memoir shows.

Anyway, back to the man of the moment. I interviewed Robin Askwith back in August and spent a very entertaining hour on the telephone with him as we talked about his lengthy career and his views on anything and everything. A colourful character in every sense of the word, Robin is charming, down to earth, intelligent and shrewd about the business he's been a part of for nearly fifty years. One of the joys of Robin and his career is just how diverse it has been. He's never followed the usual path to stardom and that makes his story all the more fascinating. Despite being the typical larger than life character, Robin is also not shy at owning up to those films and telly shows which have been less than successful for him. He's open, honest, naturally funny and a pleasure to listen to. Our conversation on the phone months before was replicated in the Phoenix, only with a much bigger audience and it still felt unique and personal.


I won't give too much of the content away as you really do need to take in the show for yourself however it started with Robin's birth in Southport in 1950 and, well, it didn't get much further than that in the chronological order of things. And the evening was all the better for it. Mr Askwith had brought a pad of paper with notes to the stage but never actually got around to reading them or sharing them with the crowd. The completely random nature of the show meant that Robin was constantly going off at tangents and while that meant we never actually heard what happened when he accompanied Cheryl Hall to that audition for Pier Paolo Pasolini (read my blog interview to find out more) it didn't really matter as what he ended up telling us was just as riotous, as funny and as big a joy.

We heard stories from the joys of playing panto; films such as Bless This House, If, Horror Hospital, Carry On Girls and something called Queen Kong (ahem); and friendships with the likes of Alan Lake, Peter O'Toole, Linda Hayden and Lindsay Anderson. Robin took many questions from the audience and was really down to earth, open and friendly with us all. He may have told me on the phone that he's naturally nervous when performing up there all on his own and that it's not his natural habitat, but he took it all in his stride and seemed to relish the backchat with the audience. And despite exposing certain parts of his anatomy on a recent trip to Oxford, he remained, I'm glad to say, respectfully attired throughout his 90 minute gig.

I'm so glad I could attend this show, the last of the year. However Robin told us that there were plans under way for a proper tour of one man shows next year as he celebrates fifty years as an actor. Watch out for more information on that.


If you're a fan of the Confessions films and that's what Robin Askwith means to you, then make sure you check out one of his shows next year. And if you're not a fan of the Confessions films and think you know Robin, go anyway, because he's full of surprises and you'll get much more than you bargained for.

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