Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Peter York: How to Become a Nicer Type of Person, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Claire Smith.
Peter York is probably the closest thing we have today to Nancy Mitford. In 1954, Mitford analysed the linguistic quirks of the British class system, listing which words were “U and non-U” and helpfully explaining why it is far more posh to say “loo” than “toilet”.
York, who has the pronunciation of an Earl, carries out a similarly forensic analysis of current usage, analysing what certain words tell us about style and individuality.
An expert on fashion, trends and how to dress, York delivers his polemic in front of two rails full of dress shirts – he has 600 at home. The man who wrote The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook – defining upper class Eighties style and social mores – gives his thoughts on Hoxton shabby chic interiors and hipster beards. He dissects our use of language, railing against “authenticity” and “journey” in favour of “refined” and “stoical.”
York knows a great deal about his subject. He can tell you what shirt to wear to meet an African president and how the way you wear your scarf reveals your position in society.
When we leave to go back out into what he calls the “Go Go Fringe” he tells us we will notice things and see the world a little differently. And we do.
Assembly George Square Studios (Venue 17) until 31 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 22 August 2015
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