Richard Handley review – Glastonbury Festival 2024

Photo courtesy of Richard Handley

Richard Handley cannot be contained by a stage riser. A ‘stage’ seems to be a concept to him – and one he rejects. There are multiple times during his performance of Go Bananas that he departs the stage, embedding himself (almost literally) in the audience.

In fact, there are times that he disappears from stage area entirely, running after an unwitting passerby to claim them for a moment of audience participation. 

It is probably fair to describe Handley as an ‘old school’ [street performer/comedian], rooted in circus traditions. That is meant as a compliment – it feels like his set is a tribute to his informal and formal training that took him from Goa, Hong Kong, Tibet and back to Europe. He takes these traditions and makes them fresh in a mime set full of clowning.

He allows for off-hand moments, some of which are the finest moments in the set, like the exaggerated mimicking of the walk of a passerby. As Nessun Dorma plays, he conducts, chest out, like an orchestra.

There are bullfights, a gorilla banana telephones, and, in the end, he takes three audience members and trains them to perform Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake ballet. The whole thing is a wonderful tribute to circus and comedy.

Richard Handley performed at Glastonbury Festival 2024, running from 26 to 30 June