x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

footnotes Emily Shardlow

By all accounts, at the age of 71, it's quite late in the game to be embarking on your first ever UK tour. But then again, ever since it was announced that John Cleese would be taking to the stage once more, it was clear that this move was influenced by need rather than desire.

Dubbing the performance The Alimony Tour only served to reiterate matters. Following the breakdown of his third marriage, Cleese was ordered to pay a hefty divorce settlement, thought to be in the region of £12.3 million (Dh74m), to his ex-wife Alyce Faye Eichelberger. In order to subsidise this, he decided to return to work.

So far, critics have not been overly enthusiastic about the results. Writing for The Times Dominic Maxwell regrets to inform us that: "Expectations were high for this first solo show by the mighty John Cleese... Expectations, it turns out, had better lower themselves pronto."

While they seem to agree that the performance begins with plenty of punch, as Cleese launches an attack on his ex, most conclude that after that it all goes downhill. As Quentin Letts, writing for the Daily Mail, puts it: "The show peaks after just 20 minutes," a view reiterated by Holly Williams in The Independent: " In the end this is little more than dead parroting".

Which, considering that they are talking about a man who was loved for his roles in Fawlty Towers and Monty Python and has long been called a national treasure in the UK, is really rather sad.