London MIME Festival 2020

Reviewer's rating

Challenging two main stereotypes against clowns, the children’s party entertainers and the more horrific and twisted “Killer Clown” phenomenon, Coulrophobia (or fear of clowns) shows us the funnier and more vulnerable personalities behind the red noses and big shoes. As such, the “two clowns trapped in a cardboard world” successfully create a unique world of their own whose absurdity and anarchy the audience embraces with great laughter and emotion.

The timing required for slapstick humour is perfect, in tune with the range of sounds and music played, of ludicrous situations and unusual relationships with objects. We are welcome to Dik’s birthday, but to his great miming of disappointment – and ours, no birthday cards can be found in his makeshift letterbox; his stage companion however awaits him inside a huge parcel. Its access becomes an excuse for a series of gags, such as the making of stairs made of cardboard boxes in which we can imagine increasingly bigger animals to be found.

The show not only engages us through the playing with our imagination, but also via a direct involvement with the script and what happens on stage. Are the dressing-room walls real? Can we really believe that Dik and Adam are stuck in a cardboard lift? Is the musicbox’s tune lovely or creepy? While Adam is busy in his hairdressing salon, it is up to the audience to decide as it gets involved in the “squeeky orchestra”, “Happy Hour cocktails” and a party of cardboard musical instruments!

But amidst this delirium, spine-chilling puppet Poker Boss appears, and with him, more profound questions of existential angst and search of freedom from this bewildering cardboard world. Dik and Adam then reminds us of Vladimir and Estragon in Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot”. Will Adam find more meaning to his existence through falling in love with a member of the audience and having an incongruous candlelit dinner with her? Will Dik find his true vocation by giving the audience a puppetry “masterclass” with a sock?

One thing is for sure: the team has created so rich a world and characters that the audience is more than willing to take part in this fabulous and totally mad adventure.