Brighton Fringe 2013
"Over a bottle of wine (or four) with one sprawled in the bath and the other perched on the loo, yet another story has been shared, weaving thicker the web of friendship between Nixx and Val. The pair have built a unique relationship, Tales Of The Tombola shares with you the tragic, hilarious, and crude moments that brought them together."
If you have ever wondered how long it takes to blow up a Space Hopper with a small and inadequate pump, then this show will demonstrate you something you didn’t know before. While Val slowly and exhaustingly pumps and pumps, Nixx is beside herself with excitement, jumping up and down, smiling and grimacing with anticipation. This strange and completely absorbing spectacle kicks off the show. It felt like a surreal female take on the Mighty Boosh, with a touch of Derevo, the anarchic Russian physical theatre company, thrown in for good luck. Well, that is an approximation.
When they introduce themselves their physical actions have already distinguished them from one another – the older, long suffering more mature partner from the gawky puppy like enthusiast. It’s always difficult to get across the feel of some of the more surreal shows. The parallels with Derevo begin to feel stronger when the messy liquids and the flour and the eggs begin to spill, spurt and splash around.
The apparently naive questions from Nixx, after she has said that though she knows Valerie pretty well, she’d like to ask her some questions, are slightly leading, sensible questions that one woman friend might ask of another. “What’s it like to have a baby?” she says. The question is given a bit more edge by her dunking the realistic baby doll she has taken out of her shopping cart in what looks like a bowl of thick, bright orange afterbirth and flinging it at Val, splattering her with the liquid.
Valerie answers this question and others, seemingly unfazed by the splashing and broken eggs that follow; her answers are more disturbing as they begin to tell of domestic violence and suffering.
At the beginning they say, Val narrating, Nixx interrupting, “We trained in dance but there isn’t any dance in the show, and we’re not trained in theatre.” These simple bald statements are disarming, charming even, which counterpoints the later mayhem. It’s a delicate interplay to manage between the two actors, the straight woman and the clown, but they have good stage presence that you feel a connection with both, something that can be difficult to manage in such anarchic off-the-wall scenarios. I came away slightly disorientated but with a sense of having seen something strange and worthwhile. And there’s cake, I forget to mention, there is cake, divided up for those who want it in the audience – it’s just that kind of show.