Lucy Hopkins, last seen at Brighton Fringe provocatively swirling her red scarf in Le Foulard, wants to surprise her audience and herself. She is using her three shows in the Bosco to work out how and all are different. The performance that I see, on a blustery Sunday afternoon, has an audience small in number and height, as half are under 10.
Today the piece is site responsive from the start, with Lucy emerging worm-like from the beneath the seats. Surprise! She plays with the opportunities offered by the space: the light that comes and goes through cracks and ill-fitting doors, the wind rattling the rafters, and the creaky floor all allow her the chance to move and react and clown it up, saying nothing, using just her incredibly mobile body and brilliantly expressive face.
A hand-held lamp becomes a key prop, spotlighting people in the audience and herself. There is an extended riff on a small square of red shiny paper peeled from the floor. A child’s preoccupation with some elastic forms a running theme. These are simple pleasures performed with a huge measure of joy. She invites people to join her on stage to do very little but just be with her, or follow her dance moves, or lead her in theirs. A microphone is used for just a couple of throwaway lines ‘It’s nice to have a holiday isn’t it?’ she says, apropos of nothing.
There have been several stand-out clown-based shows in this Brighton Festival and Fringe – by Trygve Wakenshaw, Jody Kamali and Spymonkey for example – and Lucy holds her own with them all. Her look can switch from delight to daggers in a flash, she can be elegant and awkward, fallible and in control all at the same time.
When three game men join her on stage, holding their arms aloft, the piece takes flight. Lucy gambles around between them, shouting ‘forest of men – tell me what I am searching for’, almost questioning her creative process. Making a new show every time is a challenge for any artist. Hannah Ringham’s Free Show trod similar territory. For me, the forest of men, and the kids on Sunday afternoon, Lucy Hopkins’ Surprise Event surprised, and I look forward to seeing how it plays out in other venues, with other audiences.