Posts Tagged ‘clowning


Trigger Warning


Trigger Warning

Zoe Coombs Marr & Token Events

Theatre Republic – La Boite Studio

September 12 – 15 2017


Reviewed by Heather Blacklock



Zoe Coombs Marr brought Trigger Warning to the La Boite Studio for four shows only. Outside, in the precinct, an incredible space called Theatre Republic has been re-built for Brisbane Festival. There’s live music, scrappy bars, food stalls and seating to spare before you go in to see your show. I felt like I was in a giant treehouse.


I deliberately went into this show with very little information about what I was going to see. All I had picked up was that Zoë performs as the satirical character Dave. A fact I forgot to tell the friend accompanying me. My poor, darling friend spent the first 10 minutes or so wondering how the hell she was going to break it to me that this person was awful! So firstly, a warning (not a trigger warning) that Dave is going to challenge you in the best way.

The atmosphere flips between uncomfortably tense and explosively uncontrolled guffaws. We go on a journey with Dave that starts with stand up then moves to, of all things, clowning, and then deeper and deeper into a meta-mental breakdown. There’s a lot of sensitivity and vulnerability to Dave, despite his misogynistic instincts and I found myself feeling so much empathy for him despite reminding myself of my twitter replies after catching the attention of Men’s Rights Activists. There are so many layers here, and with it comes nuance in the commentary on being a female comedian, being a male comedian, challenges to privilege, feminism and identity.


I completely understand how Zoë has won multiple awards for this show, which has already toured extensively. It’s clever, socially aware comedy cut with bad puns, dick jokes and physical comedy that catches you by surprise. People will love it or hate it. I’m firmly in the love camp.




Cirque du Soleil

Skygate, next to Brisbane Airport DFO

November 24 2016 – January 8 2017

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


Which Cirque du Soleil shows have you seen? Australia has seen eight:

Quidam – Dralion – Varekai – OVO – TOTEM – Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour – Saltimbanco – KOOZA

KOOZA (since 2007) is touted as being Cirque du Soleil’s best show yet, but it’s not my favourite. It’s light and bright and lots of fun without delving too deeply into the psyche or anything overly social or political. And, in times of trouble in the world, apparently that’s just what we need. 


As the court clowns and the foolish footmen build the tension of a new show the king shuts off the lights… the show has begun. One spotlight appears…a clown…”the innocent ” trying to fly a kite, a large box appears and out comes the trickster. Who will be the KOOZA?

– Poppy Eponine

KOOZA is not entirely without narrative and some would say it’s the most simple and effective story of all (there have been some convoluted plots in the past, let’s be honest). This one features a powerful Trickster (Vladislav Zolotarev), who springs from a box to lead the Innocent, a naive and charming clown (Joey Arrigo), on a fantastical journey through fun times with new funny friends to find his place in the world. It’s a wafer thin classic quest premise, a young hero’s journey – the Innocent’s gotta’ find his corner of the sky – and by combining acrobatics and the art of clowning, we get the best of all aspects of traditional circus (Creator and Director David Shiner).

KOOZA comprises many disparate pieces, something for everyone, and boasts an Olympics worthy international ensemble of acrobats, contortionists and aerial artists. KOOZA might be the first Cirque you’ve ever seen, in which case you won’t look for deeper meaning and you’ll probably see this company’s most exciting and death defying acts straight up.


On opening night we were privileged to see Queenslander, Lisa Skinner, on the aerial hoop, her act fast and furious; she just a whirl of bright colour high above our heads, and spinning until blurry, toes barely touching the ground, centrestage. Barely into the same act during Sunday’s matinee, Skinner fell from a height of almost 5 metres and landed face first on the floor, sustaining injuries for which she was treated before being taken by ambulance to hospital. My sister (a stage manager) wasn’t calling Sunday’s show, she saw the accident on the monitor backstage. Our parents were in the audience and my mum cried out, along with hundreds of other horrified witnesses. They said Skinner looked as if she might be dead, with her neck resting at an odd angle. Fortunately, Skinner is recovering well. Having already undergone shoulder reconstruction before the commencement of this tour, she must be devastated to miss performing in front of her home crowd for the remainder of the season. 



The contortionists deliver an exquisite act of ancient serpentine elegance and humour, their bodysuits, of jewels and earth, glistening as they bend and twist and impossibly pose (Sunderiya Jargalsaikhan, Ninjin Altankhuyag & Odgerel Byambadorj). A unicycle duo delight (Olga Tutynina & Yury Shavro), teeterboard acrobats defy gravity, high wire antics thrill, and the balancing chair act elicits gasps of genuine disbelief and awe (Yao Deng Bo). Yao Deng Bo is my favourite performer, the epitome of focus, strength, balance, grace and old world circus charm.


The Wheel of Death (or, more philosophically and psychoanalytically, The Wheel of Life-Death-Life) proves itself the highlight of the show, although we missed much of it due to the sweat sheet and poor sight lines behind a lighting truss in our seating section. The Columbian acrobats, Ronald Montes & Jimmy Zapata actually risk their lives during this performance; it’s terrifying to watch. I wish we’d been able to see more of it. KOOZA is the first Cirque show to incorporate front of house lighting, requiring the trusses spaced throughout the Grand Chapiteau, and I wonder if it’s the last. The little we were able to see of the skilled artist leaping above the arm of one of these towers was indeed impressive, as he ran and rose magically from the hamster wheel on one end of the turning mechanism, but it lacked tension and thrill factor for us. The same problem applied to the double high wire act and we heard a number of disgruntled audience members around us. Do these people offer their feedback to the company? I hope they do, and I hope, rather than giving a 1-star rating on Trip Advisor or Facebook, they simply advise friends to book seats in a different section. Poppy had an ideal view from Section 200, where she was sitting with her cousins, and she could not stop talking about these amazing acts for days.

The contortionist act was spellbinding but still second-best to THE WHEEL OF DEATH (dah dah dah!). How Ronald Solis Montes & Jimmy Ibarra Zapata amazingly survive the wheel of death time & time again I do not know.   

– Poppy Eponine   

A tight band under the direction of Carl Murr, and powerhouse singer, clad in rich, colourful silks (Jennlee Shallow), deliver KOOZA’s original jazz, funk and Bollywood styled music with gusto. The beautiful, magical structure that holds them, a tall, ornately carved, cylindrical timber tower, the Bataclan, glides forward to feature the musicians and then backwards to serve as an entrance and exit for various acts (Designer Stephanie Roy). It’s a glorious piece of design, fully integrated into the show. I love the way our Australian percussionist (Adelaide’s Ben Todd) is brought out into centrestage to be featured, just as each acrobat takes his or her turn in the spotlight. And spilling from the doorway (only to be chased by a Death Cape destined pack of 150 fake fur rats), I enjoyed the exuberant Day of the Dead dance; it’s a theme from which I’d love to see Cirque draw more heavily.


Irina Akimova’s hoop manipulation is also highly entertaining but it’s her magnificent feathered coat, the standout costume in this show, that leaves a lasting impression. The KOOZA costumes, designed by Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt, are inspired by comic books and graphic novels, the work of Gustav Klimt, Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz. (You’ll see the influence of the flying monkeys on the faces of the acrobats on the double high wire). In KOOZA we see much more from the clowns than in previous Cirque shows and rather than use gibberish to communicate, these clowns speak English. It takes away a little of their charm but it means that every punch line lands just right. The King (Gordon White) and his court jesters (Michael Garner & Michael Berlanga) are clearly adored by the vast majority.

KOOZA is guaranteed quality from the world’s best circus creatives and a collective of 50 performing artists/super humans, and it’s super fun for the whole family. I would never miss a Cirque show and nor should you.


Slava’s Snowshow


Slava’s Snowshow

QPAC Lyric Theatre

26 – 30 June 2013


Reviewed by Poppy Eponine & Xanthe Coward



Following his sensational performance as part of Cirque du Soleil’s Alegria, Slava went on to create his own Slava’s Snowshow which has become a multi award-winning international sensation, delighting and thrilling audiences in more than 80 cities around the world, from London’s West End to Sydney and from New York to Moscow.


Slava’s Snowshow is a fusion of traditional and contemporary theatrical clowning arts. The show brilliantly creates a world of wonderment and fantasy that transports the audience to a joyous dream-like place, where a bed becomes a boat in a storm-tossed sea; a child walks in amazement inside a bubble; boards a train and then becomes the train, his chimney-pot hat billowing smoke; and a web of unspun cotton envelopes the audience. The stunning finale sees a letter turn into snowflakes, and the flakes turn into a snowstorm, which whirls around the auditorium, leaving the audience ankle-deep in snow.





The bubbles were amazing and I loved how the snowstorm worked!




I got sad because he had to leave someone. It must have been his mum, in a big brown coat and a hat. They were at the train station before she sent him out into the world. He loved her so much and now he will miss her. It was the best hug in the world but it was sad.








It was FUNNY when the reindeer looking aliens crowd surfed and we got wet from the water bottle umbrellas. Mum shared her hoodie with me so we had some shelter, but it filled with snow. Her hoodie, her bag, and our boots – everything was filled with paper snow. Everywhere was snow! I collected it in my dress and threw it back at the new friends all around us. The boys in the front row made snowballs and threw them at each other. It was fun, everyone laughed! When we walked in there was snow and it kept on snowing. Even the special letter from his mum turned to snow. It was so fun. I loved it! It was the best!




Poppy and I had seen the iconic images of Slava, and a little of the footage on YouTube, so we knew to expect an all-encompassing cobweb, which was taken by the audience over the entire audience – over our heads – and which caught in hair, and jewellery, and acrylic nails (because who ever has time for infills anyway?)! Poppy continued to take the cobweb and pass it on, even as patrons were standing up and moving out to the foyer for Interval. Actually, I’ve never seen so few people leave the theatre during Interval, and why, in this case, would anybody want to? The show went on! It was the best Interval ever!




Act 2 began with a scene in gibberish, during which, most appropriately, Slava mumbled “Kevin Rudd” in between nonsensical words while a reindeer looking alien clown sat and knitted in a rocking chair. He may have also said something about the footy but it came across as “the state of the union”. For those of us who hadn’t checked our Twitter feed or text messages during Interval, this was a particularly delightful delivery of the news.





Slava’s Snowshow is big budget, high-tech, old-fashioned theatrical magic. I don’t actually believe that anybody could sit through this show and not be amused, delighted, amazed and moved by it. The effect the show has on its audience is a large part of the magic. When you walk in to a theatre full of paper snow, you make instant friends.


N.B. If you can, sit in the stalls. This is where the audience participation happens, and it’s near enough to the stage to see every nuance in the faces and bodies of the performers.



It’s not often that I see a show in which I become so easily and so completely immersed. I always go into a show with a reviewer’s head on, even when I know I don’t need to write it up, but it’s rare that I feel like I’ve been swept away with the rest of the audience. Slava’s Snowshow is an experience that takes us back to the last time we looked out at the world through a child’s eyes. It’s beautiful, and delightful, and fun, and a little bit bewildering. The spectacular finale, using every high-tech gadget available, just as a child would, left us in absolute awe. We were, literally, to the tune of Carmina Burana O Fortuna, blown away. This was the icing on the cake. There is NO WAY you could walk away from THAT without being impressed and over joyed! (And overwhelmed, depending on age and emotional state. Poppy had a moment, it was SO INTENSE. Also, we lost our beautiful souvenir program in the snow under the seats and it was really sad to leave without it. We didn’t realise straight away, and I forgot to pick up another when I was back at QPAC the following night for QTC’s spectacularly sexy Venus In Fur, which is the other must-see at the moment, though not for kids, obviously.


The light was BOOMING bright and no one could look at it otherwise their eyes would burst! It was so bright, like the sun; even with sunnies on you couldn’t look at it. Mum and I ducked down in our seats again and looked at it for a moment through the fur around her hoodie so we could see Slava trying to get to the light through the snowstorm. It was awesome! It was also a bit frightening because we didn’t know if that was the end of him in that little life. He came back for the curtain call and thank goodness he didn’t have the arrows through him!




Slava’s Snowshow must finish in Brisbane tomorrow Sunday 30th June 2013. Book online



Le Foulard

Le Foulard

Brisbane Powerhouse

Brisbane Powerhouse Turbine Studio

 24th – 27th April 2013


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward


This is not your ordinary one-woman show.


Le Foulard Lucy Hopkins

Lucy Hopkins is an extraordinary performer, and Le Foulard is an extraordinary show; the ultimate performers’ master class, and highly entertaining, especially for anybody who’s ever claimed the title of “Artist”… or who knows one.


It’s a chatty, ready-for-anything opening night crowd; prominent Brisbane theatre makers and theatre lovers , the industry peeps and artistic looking types. Sorry if I missed you after. I often run away, right back to the Sunshine Coast (especially on a school night!), and get up again at 5am for a walk on the beach or a bit of yoga before the new day gets away from me. More often than not I wish I could stay a while and see you at the bar! How about following the fourth and final Brisbane ADELE show UP LATE at The Judy tomorrow night? Alright! You’re on! See you after! (Note to Nim: I’m amused to be able to tell you that Hopkins made a point of distinguishing her ART SHOW, one of high art and genius – A GIFT TO US – from cabaret!).


I love the ambience as people settle and continue chatting. I lean forward, to the two women who had moved as we’d come into the space from their seats in the second row and said to them, as if I’d become my mother, “You’re very brave!” But then I realised, “Too late! Should have worn a belt as a belt and not a scarf as a belt over the Blackmilk!”. At some point, who knows exactly when or why (I’m not big on word counts or run times), the chatter STOPS. Everyone can sense that SOMETHING is about to happen.




We can tell that this is gonna be GOOD. The lights don’t dim and yet Hopkins enters the intimate Turbine Studio space with a flourish created by her long silk scarf and triumphant manner. The scarf is her only prop and she might as well have been dressed by…me. On an only-black-will-do day, which is most days. Very black. Very French. Very ARTISTE.


This, ladies and gentlemen, is an art show, made with love by an idiot.


My +1 for the evening was my dear friend, artist Denise Daffara. I love what she has to say about the “made with love by an idiot” bit. I’m sure the idiot reference is something of an in-joke for artists; a dose of The Artist’s self-deprecating sense of humour, and quite possibly something that might come from an auspicious history of clowning training and performance; of letting go, taking risks and making uninhibited theatre! The brief for Hopkins’ recent workshop in Melbourne indicated as much.


Have you ever thought you’re a total idiot? Good news! You probably are. There’s a whole world of beautiful performance to be made if we can get in touch with our magnificent inner idiot, take a risk, follow our impulse and find the pleasure in being completely ridiculous.


Denise DaffaraBut it irritated Denise and I understand why. Why not try to reach beyond an audience of artists? Why not sell this show unashamedly to ALL? Not all art is for all, granted, but it might be worth repackaging Le Foulard to achieve ticket sales in slightly more diverse circles. I trust that perhaps Bridget, Liz, Robert, Ira Seidenstein or Mary Eggleston can enlighten us further. There were moments, Mary, when the main character, The Artist, reminded me so much of you. We have HAD these conversations! Oh yes! The artist’s one-woman company… ARTSOUL! Deliciously wicked humour, not just for a perceived elite (or indie or whatever) group of artists, in fact the whole premise plays on our assumptions about artists.


Anyway, Denise and I set out an adventure one day a few years ago to complete Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way together. I got stuck at Chapter Seven: something about perfectionism, falling from trees, reframing perceptions…still working on that bit! We generally catch up over cups of tea at The Silva Spoon, and Goddess Guidance cards and a bowl of fire in the backyard during a full moon ceremony. I know. You’ve seen all our catch-ups on Instagram (sorry Pinners, there ain’t much over there at Pinterest yet!). ANYWAY, recently I was privileged to take part in one of Denise’s sumptuous Creativetea sessions, which immersed me in art journalling and COLOUR. (Yes. I have issues with colour. I know. Another time…).


To be honest, I’m not sure either of us was entirely sure what we were going to see in Le Foulard. An award winning, successfully touring one-woman physical theatre type show created and performed by the #exquisiteclown Lucy Hopkins (always search the Twitter & Instagram hashtags before Google for quick hot topic tips!).


What we see is an incredible performer, who magically conjures four vastly contrasting characters, superbly studied, and effortlessly establishes a genuine connection with every single audience member (including latecomers…you have been warned! But then, Hopkins is so kind, gracious, respectful, patient and adorable, don’t worry! There are certainly no amateur-stand-up-night humiliation tactics going on here), even before an eye contact gag puts the theory into practice.


The characters are representative of those dissident voices that we – the artists, the humans – hear continuously, at first barely audible and then commanding more and more attention until The Artist cracks under the pressure of the cacophony. Or worse, amidst the very silence for which we yearn. Oh yes. We’ve all been there. To hell in a hand basket… and there’s a hole in the basket!


For a moment I wondered what it would be like to be experiencing Le Foulard NOT AS AN ARTIST. But we are all artist enough, we humans; creative enough and open enough to recognise the archetypes, and the sophisticated parodies of stereotypes at work here. And the show is clever enough, and entertaining enough to capture the attention of even the most creatively challenged! It’s clear that Hopkins has had some tough crowds in the past, but in the theatre spaces at least, for the ticket buyers at least, she is #WINNING (and so are we).


A couple of references, though they may seem slightly obscure; it would be remiss of me to omit the signs that seem to point my head towards various intriguing paths.


Remember the sister on her birthday night in Notting Hill? Yes? Well, she came to mind during Le Foulard!



And remember Nicole Kidman’s “naughty words” antics, and her Morticia sleeve motif in Moulin Rouge? Yes? Well, there’s a bit more than a hint of that here, in Le Foulard!



And are you a fan of Rowan Atkinson? Jim Carey? Le Foulard showcases Hopkins’ unbelievable array of facial expressions. It’s a big call but I’m making it. The woman has greater facial agility and a million more nuances across her repertoire of facial expressions than Atkinson and Carey put together. I’m awed by the intricacies of each mutable expression, as well as the sheer joy of a ridiculously over-extended fixed grin on the face, while the body moves from one shy-girl gestus to the next beneath it. Her movement is really sensational, down to the final flex of the toes of the upstage foot towards the ceiling. ATTENTION TO DETAIL, KIDS. INCREDIBLE. Each character could not be more defined.



AND how much do you love Edith Piaf’s famous rendition of Non, je ne Regrette Rien? Easily rivalling Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody for the title of Best Song EVER, this brought the audience gradually, brilliantly to the same place at precisely the same moment, with not even the shuffling of feet or of hands repositioning themselves on laps to break the spell…until Hopkins herself smashed it with the English interpretation – line by line – of the French! And then, as her efforts to explain became more a search for deeper meaning, the tears that had run down my cheeks from fits of laughter made way for tears of aching sadness. Bizarrely, like the Superman rollercoaster at Movieworld, which I refuse to go on (I don’t do rollercoasters), this seamless segment of the show shot by but it felt as if we were caught in a breathless moment in time, and that moment surpassed everything else (except, perhaps for some, the poignant delivery of I Will Survive) in its exquisite shape, form, pace, pause, eloquence and heartfelt search for truth. That moment at the top of the track, even as you watch from below, before the carriage teeters and tips and rattles down to the finish of the ride without spilling any of its precious cargo? That is how I feel before embarking on an ordinary performance, let alone imagining taking on a challenge as great as this sort of show. Hopkins has truly gifted us with not only her outrageous talent, but also with her courage, her commitment to the art and the study of it, and that attention to detail.



Hopkins might as well have been standing naked on the floor because clad as she was in the typical acting training/performance blacks and ballet slippers that I could have put her in had she passed by my place on the way to the Powerhouse, nothing could veil her honesty and courage as a master performer. Even as each character came AT us, fully physically and vocally realised, at times so completely OTT that it was ridiculous (ridiculously funny!), we saw the humanness and normalcy of each, the inner critic and the nurturer, and the ongoing commune with a higher power, or a deeper truth. Finally, unsurprisingly, we see – well, we feel it, fully – the never-ending questioning from our greatest enemy. The destructive defeatist. The Artist, ourself, who can’t help but ask again,”What am I doing here?” Ultimately, it’s a devastating and completely satisfying ending. There can be no other. I’m so glad that changed, Jeffrey Fowler.


A note on standing:


This is a fearless performer in a faultless performance that is undoubtedly deserving of a standing ovation, however, I didn’t stand. Why not? Because a) I was still so completely overcome with emotion, and overwhelmed by the experience at the end of the show that I didn’t think to do so and b) because it feels odd to leap to my feet in a teeny tiny space like the Turbine Studio. Later, considering it, my inner critic seemed to be telling me that no one cares to see me standing anyway; “No one cares what YOU think!” And later still, my inner artist, my nurturer, my creative spirit guide whispered, “Don’t worry, she knows. She got that bit of love.” I tried to feel comforted by the words of my spirit guide, Sara…and then I got onto Twitter to tell Lucy how much I loved the show, in case she’d missed seeing it in my seated applause. As artists, we are not always really good at honing in on the little bits of love, are we? But it was clear that Hopkins received graciously, as the most talented and humble do, the appreciation afforded her via generous applause and the quick thinking of a couple of committed stander-upperers.


My face has never ached more and I have never been so entirely swept away by the performance of one woman in one small space. I wish I’d worn waterproof mascara and I wish I had tonight, tomorrow and Saturday available to live, laugh and cry through Le Foulard again and again and again. Le Foulard is so exquisitely crafted, honed and performed I doubt we’ll see the likes of it again this year (although I’m excited by the possibility that we might, especially considering the likes of Lucas boy girl wall Stibbard were in attendance and looking suitably impressed and inspired!). Look, this one’s a no-brainer. Le Foulard is a must-see for every artist, for every human who recognises their inner idiot artist. I hope, in future, it is billed and promoted thus.


Thank you, Lucy Hopkins, for reminding us to be the brave artists – the brave people – we know we are.

A note on Moy Sweetman:


Moy Sweetman Portrait by Jeffry FeegerUpon leaving the Powerhouse after the show, I discovered via social media that our dear Moy Sweetman, the founder of Frangipani Dreams, had left us much sooner than doctors had anticipated, after opting to step away on Tuesday from dialysis and step into the next phase of her awesome journey. Moy was too ill to go for a final swim at Noosa Main Beach yesterday morning as she’d intended, but 200 friends and supporters swam in support of Moy.


Remembering Moy has made me so much more grateful for the opportunity to have seen Le Foulard. And to have seen it with a friend who totally GETS IT. At times it’s easy to forget the friends who get us ARE STILL THERE. We get BUSY. CREATING. It’s easy to forget that we artists are all the same. It’s easy to miss experiencing the little (and big) moments together because the act of creating is sometimes so solitary. Both Moy and Lucy Hopkins are reminders that when opportunities arise, as artists, as people, we can miss out on the experience – due to fear or self-doubt or ego or the judgement we imagine might come from somebody else if we act on the creative impulse – or grab the chance and run with it, twirling, dancing, soaring into a place where we make sure we feel we belong. And it’s nice when that’s a shared space. It’s nice when you know there are other idiots artists there.


Lucy Hopkins – bio


Lucy Hopkins

Lucy Hopkins graduated from university with a degree in Fine Art, lived and worked in London for two years, then moved to Paris. She trained for 6 months in corporal mime, spent a year at the Jacques Lecoq school, then two years studying under Philippe Gaulier, who told her she was boring and looked like a sausage.


Since then, Lucy has created RawUs™, a play for two performers, toured France looking for love as one of a trio of clowns (Les Femmes En Voyage), directed clown trio The Gazpacho Brothers, travelled to Georgia twice to do her own mask-making workshops with children, spent a year training and playing with the Parisian improvisation troupe Zarbi & Orbi, worked in France and Denmark on Thomas Iratus, a new show written and directed by Lecoq graduate Kristian Husted, and wrote and performed a solo show, Impossible N’est Pas Français or There’s No Such Word As Can’t, which won the Prague Fringe Festival Inspiration Award in 2011.


In 2012, Lucy created and produced her second show, Le Foulard, which won the 2012 Prague Fringe Creative Award, and a 2012 Bedfringe Pick of the Fest Award. Le Foulard has been played in Paris, Prague, Exeter, Bedford, Oslo, Barcelona and London to enthusiastic response and critical acclaim.
The show is currently swishing across Australia where it was nominated for the Best Theatre award in Perth FringeWorld and won the Best Theatre Performer award and a weekly award for Best Theatre in Adelaide Fringe.


Lucy is based in Aubervilliers, a northern suburb of Paris.





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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