REVIEW: Suggs: My Life at Scarborough Spa

Suggs was at Scarborough Spa
Suggs was at Scarborough Spa

The most compelling thread (among many) running through Suggs: My Life is the sense that here is someone on stage who has had a remarkable life, but is still decidedly one of us.

This was already evident from the wit and lyricism of the songs of Madness. Their direct engagement with the lives of us ordinary people involved reflections on where we live, Our House, where we went to school, Baggy Trousers, and what is of daily importance, It Must Be Love.

However, those who turned up expecting a Madness retrospective would have been disappointed.

The lights go up and there is Suggs, on-stage with Deano at the piano. Apart from an armchair and a table, that is it. We are then led through a biography that is punctuated by reference to major influences such as the songs of Ray Davies and Ian Dury, the comedy of Tommy Cooper and an encounter with Jerry Dammers that resulted in the founding of Two Tone.

However, the Gallaghers come in for particular scorn.

Seamlessly integrated is the the story of Suggs’ attempts to understand his father who walked out when he was three. The switches between hilarity and pathos are handled with delicacy, both from the point of view of the writing and performing. Having found out the sad truth, he asserts that those events are past and he has formed his own reality without wallowing in the past.