By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
While the American and Canadian press has unequivocally embraced Circle as a tour de force, British reviewers earlier complained that he sometimes lacked his mischievous stage energy and that the show consisted of too much recycled material, as well as awkwardly passe political statements. (”He’s not a polemicist, but a one-man wardrobe to Narnia,“ sniffed the London Times reviewer.) The British press is notorious for turning against those it‘s used to praising, and perhaps these reviews were the measure of an opinion tide turning -- or they may have been legitimate criticisms about a new show that was just finding its voice.
”I didn’t used to talk about political stuff in my work, which was observational and surreal,“ he says. ”In Britain they act surprised if I do anything political. But I‘m quite positive about what you can do with politics. I don’t believe all politicians are bullshit. I believe there are some out there who want to set up better systems and better ideas.“
Such as the current Labor Party prime minister, whom Izzard wholeheartedly supports. ”My politics are generally Tony Blair‘s end of town,“ he explains. ”People say he’s dictatorial, but I think he‘s got a heart and he cares.“ Izzard also sees the new Europe as the best way of ending nationalisms and political superstition. Which may explain his appearances in French nightclubs. ”I haven’t really taken off there yet -- about 70 percent of the audiences are bilingual Anglo-Saxon, and the rest French. But it‘s just a joy to do, getting laughs in a foreign language -- comedy is human, not national.“
Beyond his concerts and occasional forays into live theater (including a critically acclaimed portrayal of Lenny Bruce in a Peter Hall--staged London revival of Julian Barry’s play Lenny), Izzard continues to appear in films (Velvet Goldmine, Mystery Men), though these cinema works have not fared as well as his theater projects. He‘s hopeful about the upcoming Shadow of the Vampire, the movie about the filming of F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu (starring Willem Dafoe). He has a secondary part in it, as the actor portraying estate agent Jonathan Harker, whom he imbues with typical Izzardian ambiguity. ”There was one dangerous scene in the opening, where I come down a 50-foot ladder,“ he recalls. ”I told the director, ‘I’ll do it, but if I die, then I want you to know I‘m not happy.’“
Eddie Izzard performs Circle at the Henry Fonda Theater, 6126 Hollywood Blvd.; Tues.-Sat., June 13-17, 8 p.m.; (323) 468-1770.