LOLipop productions

Harvest Rain Theatre

7th – 10th March 2012


Reviewed by Meredith McLean


I had the harrowing experience of a late train on the way to the Harvest Rain Theatre. Then whilst running as fast as I could to make the door a bat even batman would scream at dive bombed my hair. I stumbled into the warehouse sweating and gasped a breathless, “Sorry I’m late.” Finally, I could sit back in a comfy chair and let waves of relaxed entertainment wash over me. I collapsed into the front row and prepared for the calm that an anonymous audience in a theatre brings. Then the play SUCKERS began and those thoughts were dashed instantly.

This brainchild of Andrew Cory, Cameron Hurry and Pippa Moore is a hilarious mash-up of clown comedy and cleaning products. But this wasn’t a simple display of a couple of clowns falling over. Thankfully, the cliché of the pie in the face gag was put to rest before the lights went up. Ignoring the odd mishap or two with a malfunctioning prop there were some wonderful moments in which the audience became part of the act themselves. This pair of clowns had no concept of the fourth wall; there just wasn’t one.

We watch Minnie and Claude fumble around with the help of their pet vacuum, Charlie. But as they bumble about, the mess continues to pile up on them. The entire space of the stage is used while they poke their faces into the audience and attempt to clean whatever mess they create. Eventually they have to face the forces of evil clown-style. I won’t give away the ending, but the methods of their madness are too hilarious to keep a straight face.

It has a small cast but certainly not a small impact on the audience. All involved used every resource to make the laughter amplify in the room. Andrew Cory has had clown theatre close to his heart and it shows through his direction of SUCKERS. With his impressive education in the arts of mask, mime and performance such as attending the Centre Selavy Mask School in France it is obvious a lot of his own ideologies and affections pulse in this play.

The stage presence of Pippa Moore and Cameron Hurry matches Cory’s drive. Both actors already being fixtures at the Harvest Rain Theatre with their own respectful repertoires can chalk this one up as another production to be proud of. The playful balance of Pippa’s Minnie, the bossy clown, and Cameron’s Claude, the hopelessly happy fool is adorable to watch. Their antics make children giggle and adults become children once more.

But it wouldn’t be fair to praise Moore and Hurry without mentioning the guest clown played by Clint Bolster. Once again breaking the clichés of clown theatre multimedia was embraced in the plot. As Claude and Minnie leave the stage a hybrid of Benny Hill style comedy and silent film takes the screen. Clint Bolster magnifies his movement and facial expressions as the shady salesman. He has had a decade to familiarise himself with the art of clowning and it shows in this performance.

I was and still am disappointed in the conclusion of SUCKERS. The line between hilarity and pointless nonsense is a delicate tightrope these actors have to walk. For the most part they did manage to balance on that high wire of comedy. They lasted for so long, until the end where I wasn’t sure what had actually happened. It was a moment when I couldn’t tell if the play had ended. I desperately wanted Claude and Minnie to tumble out onto the stage again and give us one big finale. This wasn’t the case. Instead of a solid finish there was only an awkward silence, which spoilt the almost flawless consistency this play had taught me to expect.

Besides the wilted ending I would gladly take a friend to see this again. The most remarkable attribute of SUCKERS is the immaculate yet seemingly effortless choreography. The timing to each skit in regards to light and sound is vital. Each time Pippa Moore and Cameron Hurry embarked on a new disaster they matched their movements perfectly to an equally hilarious soundtrack. Cameron Heit was the sound designer for this production and accomplished a parody of music with elevator jingles, Mission Impossible theme songs amongst other amusing but appropriate tunes and sound effects.

My favourite experience of the whole play is absolutely the interactive nature that holds up the whole premise. They will talk to you. They might even get angry with you. But they will certainly make you laugh at all times. My only advice to you is to sit in the front row. Do not ask questions, just do it. You will not regret it.

This was the first of what I hope will be many plays involved with Harvest Rain Theatre’s AFFILIATE PROJECT. It is a wonderful little scheme to get emerging independent theatre producers onto the stage. Harvest Rain provides a venue, technical support and promotional assistance. The last piece of the puzzle to make this great project continue is an independent theatre producer with the passion to make a show happen. It seems fitting that SUCKERS kicks off the AFFILATE PROJECT. The loveable characters, Minnie and Claude, are so determined to get a job done no matter what obstacle is thrown in their way and that’s the attitude this project needs.

In the end this show is a side-splitting, laugh out loud night of entertainment with a couple clowns who are just suckers for a clean warehouse.


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