The Argus: fringe_2011_logo_red_thumbFame. It’s going to live forever.

Proposing that when a person gets to a particular level of fame, the fame itself becomes more important than the individual, Sam Devereaux’s one-man show Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues attempts to explore the murky world of celebrity’s effect on the human psyche.

Following Michael Jackson’s death in 2009, Devereaux was struck by both the voyeuristic way in which everyone fed on the tragedy and the fact that very few people remembered him as someone who became famous thanks to a talent for dancing, singing and creating music.

“It got to a point where his fame became so huge it literally disfigured him – he went from being this nine-year-old kid on the Ed Sullivan show to being this twisted, ghoulish character who didn’t bare any visible relation to that little boy who excited everybody in the first place,” he explains.

“That galvanised my thinking into at what point do people stop listening to you as a human being and become more concerned with your image and your fame?”

Taking the idea of someone being trapped by their celebrity status, Devereaux’s play focuses on an unnamed “star” shacked up in a Vegas dressing room.

Completely alienated from ordinary life thanks to a rabble-rousing entourage and a father-cum-manager who increasingly dictates what musical direction his son should take, he is on the verge of breakdown.

“He’s no longer able to do the things many take for granted. However, it dawns on him that the thousands of people who pack into the Frontier auditorium in Vegas have come to see him, not his music,” Devereaux explains.

“He has a captive audience which actually wants to hear what he has to say. This really happened to Elvis once – he did a concert and spent half an hour talking to the audience about his life. It’s actually quite uncomfortable to listen to; it’s so raw and open.”

Son of West End musical actor Steve Devereaux, the trappings of fame are something Devereaux himself has experienced first hand – albeit not quite on the scale of Elvis, the Jacksons or Britney.

Performing as part of Blatchington Mill School’s Millstone’s Big Band as a youngster, Devereaux often toured Germany, belting out classics backed by a 50-piece orchestra.

“They were starved of pop stars – they had David Hasselhoff and that was it – so I would sing on stage with the crowd screaming and cheering in a way that’s totally inappropriate for a kid. Having a taste of fame was a very weird experience,” he laughs.

Limited to just harmonica and his voice, Devereaux’s performance in Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues – produced by the team behind the award-winning Woody Guthrie show Woody Sez – is a much more stripped-down affair.

Combining music and humour, the atmospheric show is the first one-man play Devereaux has done – a style he views as being the stiffest test any actor can put themselves through.

“My favourite one-man show was Patrick Stewart doing A Christmas Carol – he performed the entire novel by himself. He had a chair on stage, two tables, no costumes, no vocal amplification and he didn’t even have a glass of water. It was real, pure theatrical communication – I always thought it would be fascinating to go through a similar test.”

* 6pm (May 22) and 6.45pm (May 24 to 28), £5/£4, call 01273 917272 or 01273 709709.