Cartoon de Salvo, Bernie and Clive

Review in Issue 12-1 | Spring 2000

Cartoon de Salvo's debut show, Here Be Dragons, was a little gem, a delicately crafted and beautifully understated offbeat comedy. In Bernie and Clive, disappointingly, there is no trace of the gentle, featherweight humour and subtle approach to characterisation that made their last show so fresh and original. Instead, the company attempt an audacious U-turn and apply full-throttle to an unashamedly crowd-pleasing, raucous and occasionally ramshackle piece of devised tomfoolery in the style of companies like Peepolykus and Rejects Revenge.

Bernie (Alex Murdoch) and Clive (Brian Logan) are star-crossed lovers: two British immigrants to America in the 30s, who meet working in a New York diner. Bored by routine and looking for adventure, they hit the road in search of their near-namesakes and heroes, the gun-toting and glamorous outlaws Bonnie and Clyde. En route Bernie and Clive hook up with PW (David Berstein), a hick farmboy who mistakes the accident-prone pair for the gangsters they're pursuing. With no money and growling stomachs, they eventually hold-up grocery stores for supplies. This oddball tale – told with shades of the Marx Brothers and Laurel and Hardy – is performed with enough gusto to just about cover the cracks in the narrative. But the in your face and sometimes ill-disciplined set pieces drag at times and the material is stretched almost to breaking point.

In contrast to their last show, this one regrettably falls into the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink tradition of devised theatre. The story is propelled by slapstick gags, comic asides, songs, pratfalls, audience participation, and, of course, the now ubiquitous comedy puppet routine. Some of the lazier, more predictable moments are redeemed by a hilarious seduction scene (full marks for the erotic use of baked beans) and by the custard-pie-in-the-face finale. It's good enough fun I suppose. But it's a well-travelled road, and, on the strength of their last show, this company is clearly capable of greater things.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Feb 2000

This article in the magazine

Issue 12-1
p. 27