Richard Carpenter is Close to You

Part cabaret and part theatre, this Richard Carpenter parody neglects its narrative elements

★★
theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
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Richard carpenter
Published 12 Aug 2017

Since Karen Carpenter’s death, she’s the only one people want to hear about when her brother Richard gives interviews and appears in public. Richard Carpenter, the other half of The Carpenters, has lived in his sister’s shadow for decades. He’s tired of it so has now decided to reclaim the limelight.

Or so Matthew Floyd Jones poses in his solo performance. The Frisky and Mannish piano player’s new show pays tribute to the siblings who aren’t as popular or successful. A tongue-in-cheek storyline documenting Richard coming to terms with his comparative lack of popularity is part cabaret, part play. Unfortunately, the cabaret element is much more developed than the theatrical one. The structure is loose, with an opening musical montage that doesn’t fully set up the subsequent story. And with more of a cabaret provenance than theatre, the show follows a rambling narrative of episodes connected by theme rather than plot – which only really come together towards the end of the show.

Jones is, as expected, an excellent performer. His characterisation never once gives way, even in improvised moments relying on audience interaction. Though a caricature, his performance is detailed rather than painted with broad strokes. The heightened nature of his work is in his reactions and use of situational comedy around the re-written lyrics of The Carpenters’ songs. Definitely a show for fans of the band, while comedy-cabaret lovers will also find much to enjoy. But from a theatrical perspective, the narrative needs more substance and a stronger throughline.