WhatsOnStage Logo

Simon Callow in Juvenalia (Edinburgh Fringe)

Roman poet Juvenal is reimagined as a raconteur in Callow's latest one man outing

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
WhatsOnStage logo

Fringe veteran Simon Callow has dusted off one of his early one man shows - a hit at the 1976 festival - which promises a flavour of "stand-up comedy" direct from ancient Rome.

In actuality it's closer in feel to an after-dinner speech, as Callow, dressed in dinner suit and sipping from a tumbler, imagines the Roman poet and satirist Juvenal as a sort of Peter Ustinov with added bile.

He berates a friend for "taking a wife" in a misogynistic rant, while mocking another for having a (vividly described) affair with his male servant. Juvenal comes across less as a satirist and more as an angry old man taking pot shots at all and sundry, from politicians to the nouveau riche. Little seems to please him and there are only occasional flashes of wisdom, such as his observation that great men are "dragged down" by the envy of others.

Callow - using a text by Richard Quick translated from Juvenal's 16 Latin satires by Peter Green - can give these one man performances in his sleep these days (a state his mellifluous tones reduced several around me into yesterday). But I don't count Juvenalia among his better solo efforts, and for something billed as comedy it's notably short on laughs, though it will no doubt appeal to those with a classical interest.

Simon Callow in Juvenalia runs at Assembly Hall until 25 August