Circus requires risk, wit and recovery which is abundant in Sam Goodburn’s Dumbstruck. Failure is contestable to success, but it is the way you recover from these tribulations that delivers a sellout show. More often than not, specifically in clowning, comedy is struck in the failures but unfortunately this at times fell flat during Dumbstruck.
The unpredictability places you on the edge, often uncomfortable when tricks go wrong and technical cues are not met. When faced with tedious chores producing toast, tea and a smoothie for an acquaintance in the next room, clumsy Goodburn finds tricks in the everyday. In an unwieldy attempt to move around the space, Goodburn takes centre stage often sustaining direct eye contact, whilst showing glimpses of his talented stagecraft.
Stretching a hand out to the audience Goodburn recruits a baffled, naive bystander to play fictional Brian, this feels like a welcome relief to lift the energy. Dressing fictional Brian with no context of the forthcoming action, Goodburn begins to demonstrate his inner clown. A knowledge of stagecraft becomes clear, interacting with whispered asides and prolonged eye contact, the audience laugh at the cost of loosing one of their own.
Taking to his unicycle, Goodburn warms up to the applaud of the audience and in the end we are charmed by his interactions with Brian. A cowboy standoff and orange juice panpipe melody, a natural and honest humour fills the space. In fear of Susan waking up, Goodburn urgently attempts to tidy away the cereal littering the stage, whilst utilising a DIY mop. Never seeing Susan we assume Goodburn gets away with the naughtiness that has taken place.
Technically this show can only improve, perhaps after a few performances the cues will fall into place. However, this show will make you laugh and with children often being the harshest critics, you can not deny the laughter erupting from the child in front of me. I leave the production with my love of clowns and circus intact. 2.5/5
Review written by Megan Mattravers.
Dumbstruck is currently showing at The Underbelly until Sunday 27th August 2017 as part of this year’s Edinburgh Festival. For more information on the production, visit here…
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