How a Man Crumbled
(Originally published here)
Clout Theatre have hit on something good with this dusty, grotesque and wonderfully pointless piece of physical theatre. Located in a new venue – the Demonstration Room at Summerhall (it’s miles away, but worth the walk) – the three bouffonesque characters that look a little bit like something out of Coraline on a bad day greet you with wide eyes from the very back wall, slowly peeling themselves off to come and get a good look at you.
From this vantage point, they attempt to guide you through what appeared to me to be a story about – from what I could work out – a writer whose every move is blighted by a religious paranoia. Plot becomes subplot, however, as the grotesques pop in and out of the narrative to regale us with stories of their own through some brilliantly executed physical and vocal clowning.
The whole thing looks a little bit like a lot of silent film reels that have been messed up in a box and stuck together afterwards: don’t expect to come away with any sort of revelation, but rather a resounding awe of the abilities of the three actors and their grasp of comic timing, prop use and efficiency of movement. The lighting is wonderful, although the manual switch floorlights do slow the pace a lot and are sometimes more frustrating than useful.
There isn’t really an ending – there’s barely a middle, or a beginning – but that really doesn’t seem to be the point. What we see instead are a series of beautifully constructed physical sections that have the audience giggling and being revolted at every turn. The final flourish is truly ridiculous (I won’t spoil it for you) but no one seems to mind, as it fits in perfectly with the environment of offensive-placatory attack-offerings that punctuate the rest of show. Definitely worth a watch – but don’t go if you have a cough.