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Brighton Fringe 2016

The Story of the Nervous Man (a silent comedy)

Neil Frost

Genre: Clown, Fringe Theatre, Interactive, Solo Performance

Venue: Laughing Horse at the Caroline of Brunswick


Low Down

He has a story to tell. There’s only one problem, he can’t speak, so it must be told by the audience, who watch a nervous man change the monotony of his life by taking a risk.


The Story of the Nervous Man (a silent comedy)

We are straight into familiar territory here, from entering a pub where no one seems to know that they have a theatre upstairs to finally finding the space, unexpectedly quite full, and in the end, very full of entertainment seekers of all shapes but all with the expectation of having a good time, and they were satisfied, they did have a good time. And why not? They were in the presence of an affable clown, telling a familiar story with charm and quick wit and lots of audience participation. So it’s just as well there was an audience because they played a large part in the proceedings! It struck me that it would have been a difficult show to do with the typical Edinburgh audience of 3 or 4 but here we were on safe territory with only a couple of spare seats and indeed the performer needed some of those seats for his props because the space was very small indeed. The story of a nervous man was just that, again familiar territory, many one man clown shows have mined the theme of a nervous character searching for love, the props are familiar, hat and suitcase, the silent entrance of the clown as he tests the mettle of the crowd, waiting for that first laugh, the one that gives him permission to continue.

And so the show rolled on; he was given permission right from the start, the audience warmed instantly to his jittery bumbling style, his grammelot of sighs, his knowing winks and experienced audience handling. He was quick to use opportunities as they presented themselves, late comers, misunderstood instructions, a human ticket machine that just would not behave, all gentle stuff provoking constant laughter from a friendly audience.

This is the territory of the one man clown show, ably suited for a festival or lunchtime. I would like to see him work in a darkened theatre space, to see how the dynamic changes but he pitched his performance perfectly to the space he was presented with. And it ended with a shy kiss, it always ends with a kiss, these stories of the lonely clown. Personally, just sometimes, I would like to be surprised by a massive twist at the end but for a free forty minute performance filled with smiles and laughter you can’t complain and I’m not. Go see and chuck some money in the bucket, he’s worth every penny but you decide how much and I love the honesty of that transaction.