Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Two masters of the art of clowning combine to tell the story of how a person becomes an actor to a clown then shows consummate skill with his partner in telling the bittersweet story of how Felix is just good friends with Filomena but wishes for so much more. If you see nothing else see this as it shows us how clowning at its best transcends art forms and becomes a master class in a genre maligned and forgotten.
Maybe I am a sucker for a Scouser in Edinburgh who lives in France selling a show with two French clowns, but if I am then I shall trawl the streets of Edinburgh for more of them. If you do not like physical theatre or clowning don’t avoid this. It will give you an hour of time to reflect on what you are missing. If at the end of this you are not convinced of how exquisitely beautiful this form of theatre is then your soul needs an MOT.
Artistic Director Jean-Luc Bosc starts us on a journey as he paints his face and talks us through his transformation. Introducing Filomena as the lady with the skirt too short she equals his narration with delightful facial expressions, physical theatre at ease and interplay that makes you laugh out loud. The set was as basic as was required though the piece involving the rain was exceptional. The use of props to highlight the skilful interplay between the performers was a master class. The way in which Felix (Jean-Luc Bosc) realised that Filomena was looking at him realising his ruse should be uploaded on youtube and sent to every Drama School in the country. It held the audience and took them with him on a journey of discovery in which they were already compliant but more than that they were part of the piece.
It is the first time I have heard a saw played live and the dexterity with which it was played was the equal to the rest of the piece. Coupled with the “fishing is fishing after all” these became favourite set pieces that have lived in my memory. The set comprised 2 chairs, 1 rug and a curtain. It was all that was required as they played so well in our imagination.
As a performance piece in clowning these are highly skilled performers who welcomed us into the performance and shared some of the best physical theatre I have seen for some time as it was subtle and grounded in clowning. The piece understood the dual nature of the clown – the hope and joy of performance alongside the sadness and tears of unfulfilled ambition.
I think I liked this a lot and so did the appreciative audience who sat as enthralled as I was. I just didn’t want it to stop. We are all used to exaggerated claims and words that have lost their meaning due to over use. To say this was flawless would be to ignore the relationship and skilled interplay the performers had with their audience. They took their cues from that theatre and gave us back what we wanted – even when we didn’t know what it was we wanted ourselves. A five star review in its own genre never mind up against anyone else – as we saw in the West Coast this was as Gallus as the Galloping Gourmet – magnifique!