Stewart Lee Press

Stewart Lee - Pea Green Boat Review Susannah Clapp - Sunday February 9, 2003 - The Observer

...Like Sigarev, Stewart Lee is on the crest of a wave. Literally, in the case of his new show, in which he ruminates on the sea-voyage described in Edward Lear's 'The Owl and the Pussy Cat'. As director and co-writer of the terrific Jerry Springer: The Opera , Lee has proved a dab hand at the loud and fleshy. Now he's back at BAC showing his talent for the small and wry. Pea Green Boat is, Lee points out in his warm-up routine, something between stand-up and theatre. He doesn't talk about falling between two stools - though this is about the only time he passes up a chance to refer to faeces. Lee's own are given a starring role in this labyrinthine tale: on the day his lavatory breaks down, he notices that the Paolozzi sculpture of Blake's Newton outside the British Library looks like someone sitting on a toilet.

Part of Lee's theme is that only mad people go around compulsively making connections between themselves and big things in the outside world. His own show is, of course, a web of unlikely connections. Wittily woven. In one of the evening's unlikely doublings, John Dowie who looks like a reincarnation of Lear - straw-hatted and thin as a runner bean - reads from the poet's journal, and then disappears behind a screen to impersonate Ray ' Sexy Beast ' Winstone.

The dotty logic of Winstone's involvement is matched by Lee's primary source of historical data: 'The Owl's Diary', in which the bird grumbles about having to play the guitar with no thumbs, and reveals the true grisly end of his love affair. With the earnestness of an elderly geography teacher, Lee illustrates the tale with slides. There's a very boring picture of waves, and two enchanting mugshots of owls: one of them looks like an avid nun, and the other like a judge.

Lee explains - for those not used to the theatre - that when he's doing acting, rather than being himself, you'll be able to tell because he'll 'look askance'. At which point he looks precious and vacant...

Source - The Observer