Voila! Europe 2020: We Missed You at the Cockpit Theatre Online
Clowns have a contentious place in modern society, vilified as grotesque but a staple at many a children’s birthday party. In some ways Groucho Marx got it right: “Clowns work as well as aspirin, but twice as fast.” In the seriousness of a global pandemic, Julia Masli and Viggo Venn’s We Missed You injects, albeit clumsily, a welcome dose of silliness.
Performed live at London’s Cockpit Theatre as part of Voila! Europe 2020 theatre festival, the show alternates between pre-recorded sketches and accompanying live intervals, all broadcast via Zoom.
The pre-recorded sketches transform mundane locales of the everyday into places of comic farce: a zebra crossing becomes a pirate ship, a dry fountain becomes a merry-go-round, a lion tamer chases his lost lion around suburban streets. In these moments We Missed You has an innocent, endearing quality, bringing a little bit of a levity to a world made more gloomy by COVID-19.
The enviable joy of the local people that catch Julia and Viggo’s antics is a blatant reminder that things are often much better in real life than they are via Zoom, even clowns. The distracting lag of the camera and erratic editing means finding the humour becomes a labour-intensive process. The cabaret-like moments of audience interaction would have been charming in the intimate setting of London’s Cockpit Theatre, but via Zoom it is strangely isolating, like being in on a joke that is not for you. Nonetheless, We Missed You makes the most of Zoom’s superimposed backgrounds, which often feature in some of the more entertaining moments of the show where the production takes on a surreal, almost improvisational, tone, like some WFH-induced psychedelic trip.
Lack of production values aside, the infantile purity of Julia and Vigga’s mission to spread a bit of silliness is sincere and slowly infectious. Let’s just hope that the vaccine works.
We Missed You is online at the Cockpit Theatre as part of Voila! Europe 2020 festival from 13th November until 15th November 2020. For further information or to book visit here.