Richard Coles had the silver surfers in the palm of his hand at Cardiff’s Sherman Theatre as he guided them through the tales and anecdotes of his colourful life. With each story in his Borderline National Trinket show packing charisma and wit, I couldn’t help feeling that I was having a brew with an eccentric uncle. Sitting on a rather uncomfortable-looking chair (due to a back injury he’d picked up just before I spoke to him for Buzz last month) the recently retired vicar and media personality welcomed us into his life.
The first half saw Coles give a comedic autobiography of his life – from a middle-class upbringing in Kettering to pop stardom, finding God, the loss of a loved one and the discovery of another. Often digressing, Coles shared thoughts and secrets at will. Despite a life filled with challenges, twists and turns, there is no denying a level of privilege that has allowed for his continued success – something he very much acknowledges.
For this fan of Bronski Beat and The Communards, Coles’ recollection of how he met Jimmy Somerville, formed the latter duo together and became a pop star was fascinating – as indeed were his thoughts on being young and gay in the 1980s. His involvement with Lesbians And Gays Support The Miners was received especially well by the Cardiff audience.
The second half of the show allowed for audience questions – admittedly, far less risqué than I’d hoped for, as I suspect even the most personal questions would have been answered by Coles with gusto. A fun part of the show, nevertheless, which allowed for more stories from his past. Fans of Coles’ novels seemed abundant this evening, with lots of questions asked about their characters, and their author took delight in sharing news of more books to come about a crime-solving vicar (who, he insists, is not based on himself).
Without question, you’re swept along on a thoroughly enjoyable ride with Richard Coles: if you’re intrigued by his life, Borderline National Trinket could be the answer to your prayers.
Richard Coles: Borderline National Trinket, Sherman Theatre, Cardiff, Tue 12 Sept
words SARAH-JANE OUTTEN