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Review; RICHARD HERRING Baby Blue.

Byline: Catherine Jones

IS it an academic asset or simply social suicide when your headmaster is also your dad? The question forms the central tenet of Richard Herring's latest show The Headmaster's Son.

But while being the offspring of TK 'Kipper' Herring may not always have seemed like fun at the time, a quarter of a century on his son's schooldays prove a rich vein of comedy gold.

Herring leaves the stomping ground of mid-life crisis which has suffused his last two outings and instead takes us back to the early 80s when he was a pudding bowlhaired, briefcase-carrying, trumpet-playing spotty boy at the King of Wessex school in Somerset.

Here he disrupts an Ascension Day service with a rip-roaring burp, fails to be elected house captain, uses a compass to try and drill a hole in his bedroom wall so he can spy on his big sister's friends, and is derided for never once taking off his school blazer.

The comedian, an inveterate modern day blogger, was also a keen teenage diary keeper, more in the style, it has to be said, of Adrian Mole than Anne Frank.

It's these diaries - read on stage by Herring - which provide the most interesting, and entertaining, part of the show, revealing a selfconscious, precocious and at times pretentious ("the whole fabric of society gets on my nerves" opines one entry) schoolboy making pronouncements on everything from the Royal Family, disarmament and the homeless to a critique on a porn film and just how he has much in common with Gandhi.

It's both amusing and rather charming - and more original than Herring's self-confessed obsession with sex which makes a prolonged appearance in the first half. Being a family newspaper precludes me from repeating much of it, but while reminiscences about burgeoning boyhood feelings for the opposite sex are genuinely funny, Herring takes the subject too far, and for too long, until it verges on the tedious.

Calling the show The Headmaster's Son is essentially a "plot device" to be able to contrast the thoughts of the adolescent Herring with his current self, a contrast brought to a head in an increasingly maniacal on-stage confrontation between the 16 and 41-year-old.

Words spill forth in a rapid rattle as Herring recalls the boy he was. But it is only in the closing minutes we hear his true views about the head of the title.

. 7/10: teen spirit
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Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 5, 2009
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