Monday, 9 August, 2010

Clowns deliver creepy cabaret

London – The Lion and Unicorn Theatre – 4 – 5 August 10 – 18:30 (1:00)

Clowns At Work’s second outing together does what it says on the tin.  Only it’s written in clown: this is macabre cabaret.  Three clowns in far more than three guises entertain with a variety of morbidly and spookily themed skits.

Cabaret clowns, it would appear, are gloriously aware and unaware of stagecraft.  As cabaret performers, they all perform willingly to a soundtrack which encompasses the thrillingly chilling, the suitably dramatic (Beethoven’s 5th) and sometimes the delightfully inappropriate (Elvis’s Love Me Tender).  But the clown in them can still be surprised or frightened by music and sound effects as well.  A prop will be stylishly caught in the wings then comically dropped a moment later.  And one clown clearly hasn’t read the horror brief at first.

A member of the undead (Marc Frost) writing a suicide letter to his mother is a wonderful conceit.  While his amusing attempts at the act itself could do with more polish, Alica Da Cunha’s inanely grinning helmeted aide to undead euthanasia is a sight to behold.  Her later turn as a clown pursued by death, whilst simultaneously performing death pursuing a clown is also very funny.

Marc Frost has a great stage presence as Dracula, but is at his best as a cross dressing story-telling clown with a macabre appetite for babies.  Watching him feed is fantastic; he should indulge us more.  Daniela Bitzi is a charming yet sinister clown.  Her Germanic witch’s cookery class is highly entertaining and her turn as a boxer, wooing ladies to less savoury ends, is a clownish triumph of mime, performed to a wonderfully comic choice of musical accompaniment.  All three performers move well, however there is mime which could do with more clarity.  Some sketches drift in search of an ending, and the Frankensteins do not deserve such lengthy stage time in their present form.

Adding horror to cabaret and vice versa brings humour to both.  The laughs are there, though more could found and some moments edited to avoid excess.  The show is restricted a little by the constraints of the space (these clowns could do with wings).  Despite the theme, there’s little in the way of frights, but Macabret can be very funny and the spectacular climax is both gruesome and haunting…

Cast Credits: (alpha order):  Daniela Bitzi,  Alice Da Cunha,  Marc Frost

Company Credits:  Devised by the Company.  Stage Manager – Elizabeth Scales.  Company – Clowns at Work.  Website – www.clownsatwork.com

(c) Ben Neale

Reviewed Thursday, 05 August 2010 / The Lion and Unicorn Theatre, London UK


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