Once… at Assembly George Square
Clowns have been steadily evolving ever since man first discovered that mime and face paint could say more than soliloquies ever could. With Russian physical theatre company Derevo comes a new type of clown show that blends elegant subtextual noir with crazed slapstick.
Our protagonist, a forlorn and scruffy fellow, is madly in love with a beautiful waitress, but so is another, much more dashing suitor. As this story of heartbreak plays out, we meet a host of colourful characters, including a two-headed clown on stilts, a pair of camp, prancing policemen, an imbecilic Cupid and the Grim Reaper himself.
The charm of Once… is in the details. As the waitress sits pensively in the café, the painting on the wall behind her becomes animated, its little rowboat bobbing across the waves and emitting steam; the clouds in the sky are held up by clowns dressed as overgrown cherubs and here and there clocks and skewed paintings of buildings recall Dali’s wonky landscapes.
There’s a strong element of poetry to the show. Our forlorn hero’s rage and anguish is represented onstage by another clown brandishing a giant scythe, half-naked and dancing frantically like a Japanese butoh performer. Many of the scenes are pure circus and colour, but these are juxtaposed with monochrome moments. It’s a child’s picture book with a dark, adult edge.
Once… is fun and raucous but ultimately heartbreaking, not least thanks to its thoroughly anti-Disney ending. See it if you can, before it returns to Russia.
Once… is on at the Assembly George Square Theatre from 4th until 29th August 2016, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch a teaser of Once…here: