Brighton Fringe 2015
Book a ticket to ride in the company of world class aerialists, exotic circus artists and sly clowns as they collide at full comic tilt with a dreamy, magical story of one lone traveller and her suitcase! In a cloud of smoke, flashing lights and mechanical noise, a lone girl emerges into a busy station with a suitcase. She’s on her way somewhere, but before she gets there she must fend off wily thieves and appease officious customs staff in this award winning cabaret circus show.
Lost in Transit’s preview show (three more over the late May Bank Holiday) still managed a near sell-out crowd, and a crowd that went away pleased for the most part. Chris Cresswell’s show is classified as cabaret, but its influences come from further afield – the films of Jacques Tati, circus and improvisation, so it’s a hybrid beast with changes of pace and direction throughout. It was very successful last year, and retains some of the same scenes, but it was fine to see them again as the humour and entertainment lies in a mix of gentle physical clowning and satirical edge that builds up slowly, visually and aurally and it’s the process we watch as much as the punchline.
I missed the corrupt, avuncular and knowing commentary from a disembodied Cresswell behind a microphone, as, being an early show, he had to take on the part of the station master himself, but this did allow him the space for some nice clowning and posturing on the stage.
The set pieces of aerial work well, a flowing set on the silks, a double contortionist / trapeze hoop performer is wonderful again, the trapeze act is a mixture of burlesque and skill, and they all get an enthusiastic response from the Tuesday night audience.
The other side of the show, a Kafka like combination of railway station and airport and lost luggage and passport control works on physical and satirical levels, with occasional sharp moments – Marion Duprez, in her famous (light) blue raincoat, pinned to the ground as her suitcase sets off a terrorist bomb alert. The performers move in and out of comedy roles in an ensemble to their individual acts with ease, and it all hangs together.
There are also opportunities seized for improvisation (the stations masters angry snapping together of a chair at the edge, the only one left vacant after the interval), gentle interrogations and sharing of the audience’s drinks. Sometimes this was difficult to see as the flat seating of the Speigeltent doesn’t lend itself to close up visual comedy (which I suspect will be overcome by the overview commentary when it returns, as this is able to give a different comic focus if your view is blocked). That said there was always enough going on, and it’s bound to get better.
Overall this is interesting, funny, awe-inspiring at times, cabaret theatre, professionally executed but with enough latitude to make warm improvised connections with the audience.