Edinburgh Fringe 2018
Is this really all there is to life as a sea lion? A diet of free fish in return for dancing to someone else’s tune and the occasional back rub? Lucille wants out but Cecilia is infatuated with Trevor. Fish, flippers and frolics in this ingenious farce.
Trundling along to C Aquila’s compact Studio venue, I forgot pick up some fish to offer to Lucille and Cecilia, two imaginatively named sea lions with an intriguing story to tell. Bit embarrassing, really, rocking up with nothing to feed the stars but, hey, looks like they’ve got plenty to keep them amused – balls, some rope and a few other toys.
Circus music plays as Lucille (Chloe Darke) and Cecilia (Susannah Scott) oink their way onto the stage, perform a few tricks and generally do the bidding of Trevor the Trainer to the generous applause of the very appreciative audience. But, show over, they get to thinking a bit about the meaning of life, metamorphosing as they do into sea lions with voices.
Is this really it? A diet of free fish in return for dancing to someone else’s tune and the occasional back rub? Lucille wants out but Cecilia is infatuated with Trevor, creating conflicting objectives for the duet which ultimately leads to a rather unusual and unexpected denouement.
This is a delightfully scatty, absurdist, surreal piece of theatre, full of superbly executed physical theatre, dialogue that’s daft and twists and turns from the outright hilarious to the genuinely poignant. Both performers are clearly experts at their craft, Scott’s body twisting and turning like the animal she is portraying, Darke’s expressive mimes conveying in a few seconds what would have taken pages of script. And rubber faces, brilliant use of the eyes and black, skin tight sea lion costumes (plus a glorious moustache each!) reinforce the characters they so successfully inhabit.
This is Bang Average Theatre’s first venture at the Fringe and there is much to admire in this piece. The story seems anarchic and whacky but has real structure; extensive use of music is never less than appropriate and at times really funny in its own right (ever seen a seal trying to sing Ave Marie?); every square centimetre of the small stage is used to full effect; lighting and props simple but effective; and two very inventive, consummate performers who understand that less is sometimes more, that the simple is sometimes the funnier.
It’s perfect tea-time entertainment for anyone of almost any age. Just don’t forget the fish.