Eddie Izzard: Stripped

Published November 21, 2008

Actor and stand-up comedian Eddie Izzard has reached rock star status within the comedy world since his first, Laurence Olivier Award-nominated, West End performance, Live At The Ambassadors, in 1993.

After years away from Theatreland pursuing his acting career in the States, the ‘action transvestite’ returns to a rock star’s reception with Stripped at the Lyric theatre.

In tails and jeans, Izzard is a little makeup short of Adam Ant’s Prince Charming video, but a touch more bizarre. Older and wiser, the comic has returned with the confidence to back his world view on stage, and this incarnation of the master of random musings sees Izzard slip towards preaching this view in places; sermonizing about Obama, rallying against Thatcher and telling the audience that they are the people who can change the world.

Christianity comes in for a kicking as well, but that has always been a hot topic for Izzard, who revels in exploring the leaps of faith in the Bible, and revisits the story of Noah, pointing out just how difficult it would be to get two of every animal in a boat.

Structured as a little lesson in history created with the help of Wikipedia, Izzard is at his best when his mind is taken away on a seemingly random tangent, creating images of jazz chickens, feral cows, dinosaurs quoting Wordsworth and Spartan sheep who shear themselves with rusty razors. His recurring characters become loved friends by the end of the show, so much so that the erudite giant squid deserved a bow all to himself by the end of last night’s performance.

Izzard, now without the frocks for which he became so famous, has the clever ability to seamlessly draw together deeply philosophical and intelligent ideas with utter flippancy and foolishness, moving from intelligent design to a bored appendix without the blink of a mascara-ed eye.

Those who bemoaned his move into acting as a loss for comedy will be glad to see him back, and will probably even let him get away with proving that “badgers can, in fact, be choosers”.

MA