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The Buffoons

Monday, 16 August, 2010

Anything Goes

Edinburgh 2010 – Studio 1 @ C Soco – 4-30 August 2010 – 21.00 (1.00)

As the show begins in darkness, a surprisingly convincing storm descends upon the tiny room in which The Buffoons takes place.  The Thunder rumbles in and as the lightning flashes you catch a brief glimpse of a shadowy figure lurking at the back.  The storm grows and the shadow draws nearer, splitting apart and transforming into four hooded figures at the foot of the stage.  They have arrived.

The show is quickly taken over by the Buffoons – grotesque creatures with exaggerated and highly stylized deformities, large humpbacks and growths protruding from their arms and legs.  Hiatus Theatre’s aptly titled production was developed from the Jacques Lecoq teachings of ‘Bouffon’ – ‘A French form of satire in which grotesque characters are used to highlight human short comings.’ Nothing is sacred to them and no joke goes too far.

The rest of the show continues essentially as a series of sketches based around popular culture.  The first of which is a wittier, smuttier and frankly more entertaining version of The Jeremy Kyle Show.  The notoriously brash and sadistic presenter being portrayed with vigorous enthusiasm by performer Henry Lewis. A verbal onslaught of a worryingly impressive range of abuse ensues.  One quickly learns what to expect over the course of the next forty odd minutes – a shockingly entertaining combination of the most aggressive and offensive language, exploiting every sexual, mental or gender stereotype known to man.

You might like to think of yourself as too mature to find a show which features rape, paedophiles, diarrhoea and Vivian Fox’s womb entertaining, let alone funny.  Yet the buffoons execute the act in such a way it would do well to challenge even your Nan to keep from cracking a smile. Perhaps what saves the show from leaning towards the overtly offensive are the looks from the cast as the audience laugh at jokes that seem to go too far even for the Buffoons. They giddily point their fingers and make you seriously ask yourself ‘exactly how far is too far.’

The piece is a stunning example of ensemble work. The four performers, all of whom wrote and devised the piece, brought a thrilling energy to their various parts. Among the variety of standout characters is Jonathan Burke’s sickly desperate, attention seeking charity show host – Yolanda Kettle’s ‘Gorgeous’ Vivian Fox – and Joshua Mayes-Cooper’s comically ginger club rapper.

A thoroughly enjoyable evening full of copious amounts of inappropriate laughter topped with lashings of self-examination.

Cast Credits: (alpha order) :  Jonathan Burke.  Yolanda Kettle.  Henry Lewis.  Joshua Mayes-Cooper.

(c) Carl Livesay

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