'Bloke in dress' Izzard offers hilarious straight talkin' 'Circle'
by Robin Vaughan

Thursday, March 9, 2000 | Boston Herald | Added 03.09.00


``Circle,'' featuring Eddie Izzard, at the 57 Theater, Boston, through Saturday.

Eddie Izzard calls himself the ``bloke in a dress,'' but in launching his five-night run at the 57 Theater on Tuesday night, he defied expectation. He was a bearded bloke in, well, a pair of pants.

You see, for much of his life Izzard was ``in a box where I couldn't wear makeup and dresses,'' then ``in a box where I had to.''

Izzard is a transvestite British comic whose videotaped concerts have become a repeat-viewing obsession for a fast-growing circle of fans. Boston is getting an idea why.

``Circle,'' his latest touring show, is a surreal, zig-zagging romp along the time line. Historical revisionism has never been so funny.

But transvestism has more to do with Izzard's real-life sexuality than his show, and his comedy was undiminished by his relatively conventional appearance, which was tarted up only by some beaded pants piping and high-heeled boots.

In Izzard's universe, stranger things happen than cross-dressing. He looks into the past and sees its reflection in a funhouse mirror. The Middle Ages are a ``long, stupid period'' in which ``the big thinker was Jeff the Clever.''

The present is as weird. In England, cows go mad from eating ``dead cows and poo. In France they eat sewage, in Italy they eat . . . I dunno, cigarettes.'' ``Whatever happened to grass?'' Izzard asked, imagining modern bovine conversation: ``You coming to lunch, Daisy?''

``I dunno, the food's been crap lately.''

The future promises more of the same. Izzard foresees the meek, represented by characters named Simon and Adrian, getting tired of waiting for their due.

``What do we want? The earth!'' they declare at a conference of the International Organization of the Meek. ``When do we want it? Now!''

``Presumably the newspapers think I'm a cross between Noel Coward and Shakespeare,'' Izzard remarked at the top of the 90-minute show, as he proceeded to blow that notion to bits with his sublimely silly take on serious subjects.

Monty Python and Dudley Moore are among his comic forebears; nonsense, more than well-articulated wit, is his stock-in-trade. He's intellectual enough to crack wise about the Renaissance, but Izzard's clown-ish physical comedy and mad mix of character voices drove the jokes home. The dizzying pace of his wildly discursive, stream-of-consciousness monologues was a joy ride.