Edinburgh Fringe 2012
A funny yet sinister piece if Theatre of the Absurd tell of how one gentle man assisted by three grotesque bouffons, deals inadequately with an uninvited guest who becomes increasingly menacing and how a group of puzzled outsiders fail to be of help
There is a dreamlike quality to this play – hands produce alarm clocks from the walls, the stripey curtains appear to include three bouffons, strange clownlike creatures, each with his own peculiar shape, who observe but cannot stop the strange goings on. It is about helplessness, fear and threat, yet contrives to be very funny.
It is the story of an eccentric, obsessional yet ordinary and private man (Me) who returns from work to discover an intruder in his home, and his attempts to try to avoid confrontation yet defy what seems like a sullying, a disturbance of everything he holds dear. The intruder (Him) does little but whistle and help himself to a cup of tea in the kitchen, yet the noises feel very sinister and the contunual appearance and disappearance of Him, as if mocking Me’s attempts to obtain help from outside, provoke the inevitable violence which is nonetheless shocking, like waking from a scary dream, only to find there really is a burglar in your bedroom. Again the Bouffons emerge from the walls of the room and try to deal with the situation, and become articulate but stranger and stranger. The lady from the park who laughs, (the one episode which seemed to me to not quite fit in with the rest of the narrative) comes, but with her own needs which he cannot fulfill, and this chance of comfort is lost. The puzzled policemen and the bemused window cleaner, who mostly remain outside, represent a sort of normality and cannot cope with the horrors.
It is all funny and a little scary, well focused, surprising, and the performances of Josh Golding (Me) Joe Boylan (Him and Moustache – a double I didn’t suspect until I saw the programme afterwards) Tom Dale as the Window Cleaner and the Adam’s Apple policeman, and Amy Tobias as the charming Lay with the cake , are all rounded and interesting. The extraordinary Bouffons almost stole the show with their strange expressions and grotesque bodies, and the half-onstage band produce a variety of spooky effects as well as music. The whole production, design and lighting make this play more than the sum of its parts, and Joe Roche has directed with detail and excellent pacing.