Browse reviews

Edinburgh Fringe 2015

It’s Only Words

Louise Reay

Genre: Clown, Comedy, Solo Show

Venue: Just the Tonic at the Community Project


Low Down

‘A comedy show in Chinese for people who don’t speak chinese’  An intense Doctor Brown-esqué clown act that utilizes performance as a means to explore the nature of communication and language.


This is an intelligent piece of work. Funny and entertaining in ways that necessitate your engagement and encourage you to think. Louise Reay bounds onto the stage, she is likeable and immediately assumes the confidence that is necessary for this type of show. Anyone who has seen Doctor Brown will be familiar with this style clowning. Outlandish, surreal – improvised scenarios are acted out with unsuspecting members of the crowd. Props are used to imply various situations and simple characters. Repetition often employed as a means of establishing ideas and breaking them the moment they begin to settle. It is unpredictable and absurd. Brilliantly fun. A man becomes a lover with the use of a sheet, then a  baby – his girlfriend watching on in hysterics as he is fed from an oversized bottle.

Whilst the expectation to partake might dissuade a timid audience member, Reay’s fun and supportive demeanor quickly gains the audience’s trust and we are all happy to engage. She has struck a difficult balance, never pushing things too far so us to make us uncomfortable but still bold enough to take risks that consistently pay off. The laughter that ensues is uninhibited, almost child like in abandon.

If anyone thinks they have seen this sort of show before they are mistaken. This is not merely a copy of other forms of clowning. Reay has evidently worked hard to refine her own style and has developed a series of original routines that leave us gasping for breath between laughs. On its own, her form of clowning would be enough to warrant a good show and I would thoroughly recommend it. However, through incorporating her skill with language, Louise has developed this style and opened up a world of new ideas. The seemingly inane articulates ideas about the nature of communication and language in ways that could not be written down. How do we actually transmit ideas? How much of what we say is really necessary? What’s more, her confidence with the language adds extra layers of enjoyment for both herself and the audience. Reay flies off on tangents and screams with delight when audience members awkwardly try to respond. It’s like being on holiday, or trying to buy bread in a country you’ve never been before. Strange and exciting. The show rests on our inability to understand but our capacity to follow. For Reay, it’s an experiment. For the rest of us, it’s definitely worth taking part in.