Pig Iron, Flop / Ars Nova New York, The Wau Wau Sisters

Review in Issue 16-3/4 | Autumn 2004

Two excellent afternoon physical comedy shows at the Pleasance with all-female casts. So who said women weren't funny? Perrier, eat your heart out...

Pig Iron's Flop is well placed in its afternoon slot; a gentle but surreal clown show with a trio of red-nosed performers who embrace the tradition – playing out the archetypal clown roles of straight-guy who wants to get things right, vain egoist who wants to be on top and anarchic fool who wants to cause mayhem. The characters may be rooted in tradition, but the show’s themes are contemporary. Proving that clowns have as much right to tackle the big issues as anyone else, we are treated to a tongue-in-cheek investigation of space-time theory as it impinges on life, death and the universe.

Starting point is Stephen Hawking's Brief History of Time (big bang, black holes, quantum mechanics and all that jazz) – with nods in the direction of Close Encounters and Alice in Wonderland. A subtext is the nature of communication (and miscommunication) – with mistakes and misunderstandings resulting in disastrous outcomes that would normally be irreversible but, in the parallel universe created on stage, prove possible to be turned on their head. The show is a little too slow at the start – and it is a relief when the performers allow the wordless mime to break out into the occasional word or sound. Time is of the essence – and Flop could do with cutting by about fifteen minutes from the first half – but evolves into a spot-on perfectly timed example of clown theatre.

The Wau Wau Sisters is an energetic and extremely funny piss-take of a whole herd of sacred cows – including country music, cock-rock and Catholicism. An acrobatic white-knickered Convent Schoolgirl Striptease (with crucifixion), saucy songs that put the cunt into Country and a fabulous speed-punk tribute lead to a doubles trapeze finale replete with lit fags and beer cans in hand. Of course, this modern vaudeville skit works because these two American ‘sisters' are seasoned circus and burlesque performers with a high level of skill in both aerial and acrobalance. If that wasn't enough, they are skilled comedy songwriters and dab hands on guitar and drums to boot.

There were moments when the pace was a little slow, and a film section didn't really work for me – although I'm ready to admit that there's a need to create breathing spaces in such a physically demanding show. A great hour's entertainment from a very talented duo which would have been better placed as an evening rather than afternoon show – and would also have benefited from a cabaret rather than theatre setting.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Aug 2004

This article in the magazine

Issue 16-3/4
p. 24