Bim Mason, Fallen Arches

Review in Issue 4-4 | Winter 1992

Bim Mason suffers of very flat feet and really, they do make him suffer: unsurprisingly, he longs for the winged heels of Hermes. This provides the impetus for an allegorical tale about the sense of imperfection we surely all suffer from. ‘We all have our little imperfections,’ he says. ‘Some people have big noses… you for example,’ pointing at a perfectly average proboscis in the audience. Rolling up his trouser legs he adds, ‘I’m going to show you mine.’

Whereupon his wanderlusting size 10s hijack him upon a masochistic journey of remembrance illustrating how such minor blemishes can become dominating obsessions, impediments to our happiness. From the cradle to the gutter and beyond he is carried by his recalcitrant hooves, pausing occasionally to ruminate in a bedsit like Alan Bennett on Crack. In a world full of awful puns, playful prose, ingenious visual invention, funny walks and pratfalls he only wants to get a foot on the ladder. However, when he reaches the top he realises that what he has been striving for is merely a (theatrical) illusion. This precipitates his descent into a down at heel alcoholic nightmare, in which, finally, his feet pack up altogether. Only when he knocks his image of perfection off its pedestal does he achieve peace of mind and his feet leave the ground. As he says at the outset, ‘Eugh, it’s a clown show’, and although he is a funny clown and has a genuine ability to enlist an audience’s sympathies Bim Mason sometimes seemed to have to run to keep up with his text and choreography. Opportunities to improvise were plainly refreshment stops. Sweating and looking footsore long before he hit the gutter one wondered, ‘Were his glasses really meant to fall off so often?’ Of course this confusion of the suffering of performer and character is traditionally one of the fascinations of clowns, but it can be worrying. More unfortunately, in conception also, the show seemed reluctant to transfer the limelight from the Struggling Artist onto the Suffering of Mankind where the interest of Fallen Arches mostly lay. Consequently, as too often happens, what we got was an entertaining vehicle for previously acquired skills strung sometimes tenuously together and a performer working too hard to please, while only scratching at the surface of his subject. Bim Mason’s undeniable charm and the show’s lack of pretentiousness were its saving graces but it is disappointing it didn’t provide the genuine revelations promised early on by ‘Close your eyes. Can you move just the little piggy that had none?’

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. 26/09/1992

This article in the magazine

Issue 4-4
p. 14