Brighton Fringe 2012
Tim Bat return to the Old Courtroom with a packed, speed of light trick show for kids.
Tim Bat returns to the Old Courtroom after a five star review from us in 2011. Tim has been up to Edinburgh since then and honed his act further. He always develops the show so I was interested to see what was new this year. Most of the show is the same as last year with a few additions.
One thing that makes Tim Bat stand out from so many other children’s "trick" performers is the sheer variety. Many performers spin out an hour from a bit of juggling and unicycling. Not so Tim, who is a physical performer, a bit of a clown, mime artist, juggler, conjurer. His protean skill set gives him the edge. And he’s very good at everything he does. But to combine this into a show so full of change, shifting from one trick to another, from one style to another, all in the space of just over an hour, is what makes this show so special. Looking back at the end, when you list everything you’ve seen, it s almost unbelievable.
He’s also more than able to connect with both the adults and children in the audience. Tim is in constant dialogue with us and the witty banter is a skilled mix of improvised reaction and well honed gags and one-liners.
Hats and canes, lassos, puppets, spinning tops and so much more, I don’t want to spoil it for you.
The raked seating of the Old Courtroom gives us all a clear and accessible view of the maestro at work and it’s also a testament to the man’s charisma that, even looking up at a steeply rising rake, that he commands the stage (and us) from start to finish in a way that makes us all lean forward even as comfy cushoned seats encourage us to sit back, cinema-like. Tim’s got it – a performer who can reach the back row with ease.
The continuous flow of material, trick after trick, gag after gag, the pace, the control borders on astounding. He commits for every seconds with an energy most of us would be happy to last a week. He crams it into an hour than never flags.
Let me unpack the variety. It ranges the globe and the spinning tops from Japan leave the children silently fascinated. It ranges the genres as well as history, gathering tricks from a rich set of sources. Modern fuses with nostalgia, street theatre with circus, the hour races by and the whole thing feels so generous as a show, so much shared, more than enough here for half a dozen shows.
And Tim has got his own rapping theme tune. The kids were clapping before he’d even stepped onto the stage! A nice addition to the show is when he teaches us done tricks we can try at home. We even learn the history of yoyos! There’s just the right smattering of edutainment here. I still feel that some of the adult-targeted humour is a bit out of place in the show. It doesn’t add to the comedy.
What marks Tim Bat out as an outstanding performer is a thirty year track record of ceaseless improvement and experimentation. What we have here is a collection of the finest tricks, gathered in, worked on. Tim has learned from the best and also developed his own style that is able to address an audience of children and adults alike. In some ways the show feels rooted in an earlier generation, in others it feels very modern. He’s also unashamedly human in the show and that allows us to connect with him.
The show is excellently paced and it fits together by not trying to fit together too cleverly. It’s a sequence of tricks linked together by Tim’s banter but the genius lies in the gesture – on of generosity of packing in so much, based around a simple narrative of wnating to cram it all in with time running out.
The silly old fella with the big umbrella has done it again. "Don’t laugh" says Tim, "it’s a filthy habit". Well this audience caught it bad!