Told by an Idiot, You Haven’t Embraced Me Yet

Review in Issue 9-1 | Spring 1997

This was a hugely enjoyable piece of physical theatre with an inventive, articulate physical vocabulary and clowning technique, some clever staging and moments of real pathos. Unfortunately, however, these elements were offset or undermined by the lack of a substantial dramatic core.

The narrative structure intertwined snatches from a variety turn with the offstage lives of the three comics. The sad side of English music-hall performers was shown through the counterpoint of their backstage lives with the act they performed. The act itself echoed the songs and jokes of such performers as Ma & Miller or Rob Wilton with the physical clowning style of Norman Wisdom or Lee Evans. The pathos reminded me of Osborne’s Archie Rice or Coward’s Red Peppers. All of these elements were cleverly used, fully utilising the comic possibilities of objects, situations and character.

However, the story became a tired, cliched, sexual/emotional triangle in which the mouse finally roars. No insights were offered into the situation or characters – clearly the devising process had left many gaps in the narrative shape, structure and story. At times, the clowning and physical technique overwhelmed the story and became an end in itself and the comedy often fell into the worst kind of sexist humour. The attempt to parody through bold vulgarity simply reproduced the sexism it was trying to mock. Despite the cleverness of the clowning and physical technique, in the end the laughter was not enough. The piece died because it was unable to support its dramatic content.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Jan 1997

This article in the magazine

Issue 9-1
p. 25