Brouhaha, Bluff

Review in Issue 8-2 | Summer 1996

Bluff is the latest show from the Anglo-Swiss clown company Brouhaha. Directed by Andre Riot-Sarcey, clown teacher at the Centre National des Arts du Cirque, and performed by Alison Cologna, Stephen Harper and Catherine Marmier, it focuses on the lives of three women trapped by the devastation of a nameless war. Meeting one day in a bread queue they form a friendship which offers them the chance for emotional salvation if only they can stop themselves recreating the war outside.

This is deep territory and Brouhaha just manage to walk the fine line between offering something worthwhile and descending into a chaotic stream of slapstick. There were moments of magic here – moments when sadness seeped through the humour and became excruciating. Alison Cologna’s opening scene as Mme. Poldovski was particularly gripping, So were many of the scenes that the three played together. Their interaction was full of kooky energy that kept the play alive. But the piece as a whole struggled. It was overworked and too reliant on technique. When you see great clowns you laugh because you can’t hold yourself back. They just take you by surprise and you barely notice how they do it. But with Bluff I felt manipulated. The show was funny and worth seeing but in the end, if it is to have resonance they need to reduce the pressure, trust the audience more and concentrate on tightening the storyline.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. May 1996

This article in the magazine

Issue 8-2
p. 21