Mad Bad and Dangerous to Know: The Scandalous and Fast Times of Lord Byron is a stellar one-man show currently running in the intimate lounge space within The Leicester Square Theatre. As you would assume from the title the show is an exploration of the not so private life of George Gordon Byron (later Noel), 6th Baron Byron.
For those not familiar with Byron, he was a prolific poet and key part of the Romantic movement. (Along with Shelley, Keats, Coleridge, Wordsworth and Blake). Byron’s canon of poetry includes greats including Don Juan. However, as much as Lord Byron was respected for his poetry, his private life and his infamous lifestyle are more akin to a 21st century reality tabloid loving celebrity than a demure 19th century poet and it is for this that he is widely remembered – it is this premise on which the show is based.
For those of you not familiar with Byron, this may not be the best choice of show for you, as it is not what you’d call educational, or essential viewing, however, if you are intrigued to meet the man behind the mystery, the man who favoured men, women and his own-siblings for extra-marital sexploits then you are in for a treat.
As we enter the space, Paul Huntley –Thomas, is sat on a stool at the theatre bar, attired in style akin to regency dress of the early 1900s he is watching the audience arrive before introducing himself as Lord Byron, master of celebrations for this evening’s cabaret.
The show is interactive (maybe a little more than planned last night when the audience did decide to reply to some of Byron’s Rhetorical questions) thankfully Paul Huntley-Thomas is engaging with quick wit and suitable retorts.
For me, the piece is not as salacious as one might imagine, or even hope – however, Huntley-Thomas delivers a compelling performance as Lord Byron, daring his audience to get a little closer to him, he is evocative and suggestive although not the sexual lothario I was hopping to experience! When it came to parts of the show where Byron recited his poetry from a selected collection of published works it was easy to get lost in the beauty of Byron’s words, sit with my eyes closed and just listen to the beautiful works and images created by this master of language.
The show comprised a juxtaposition of poetry as well as more intimate dialogue where Byron alluded to various relationships and bastard children he may have seeded, he also regaled other well documented moments from his past including the night that around the lake that led to Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein.
Although I spent an enjoyable 45 minutes with Lord Byron I left the theatre knowing nothing more than I already did before I went in – and to be completely honest I am not quite sure who the audience of this show was meant to be.
Review by Faye Stockley
Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know: The Scandalous Life and Fast Times of Lord Byron
at The Lounge
Lord Byron; hellraiser, fashionista, sexual predator, poet, punk. Join the most notorious figure from literary history for a drink. He’ll tell you his wild tales of debauchery and romance, entertain you with his wit and wisdom, and charm you with his sheer charismatic force.
Meet the man who invented celebrity culture in this unique evening of performance, and get up close and personal with the man famously described as ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’.
As seen at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2015, under the title ‘More C*nt than Can’t.
Running time: 50 minutes
Age recommendation: 16+