Wednesday, 17 July 2019

THEATRE REVIEW: Two Clowns, One Cup - Cobden Street Works, Salford.


How many shows actually warn you in advance that ‘You will get wet’? Perhaps this is meant as a general warning to expect the unexpected! An hour of non-stop fun, anarchy and general silliness is one way of describing ‘2 Clowns 1 Cup’ but it would be like describing a landscape by Constable as a piece of canvas covered with an intricate arrangement of oil paint in various colours. 

This is the latest offering from the award winning company Ugly Bucket who hail from Liverpool. Behind all buffoonery and slapstick, they have developed a reputation for taking an honest and serious look at topical issues through absurd satire, inane comedy and ludicrous (but generally hilarious) routines. You would have to be something of a Mary Whitehouse (if she’s before your time, look her up in Wikipedia) not to laugh out loud at least once during the show, as well as gasping, groaning or simply finding your jaw dropping in numerous other places.

This performance is a two-hander by the multi-talented Grace Gallagher and Crystal Quinney Barella, not overlooking the on-stage sound effects person, who clearly works incredibly closely with the actors to ensure bang-on, split-second timing at a virtually non-stop pace. In addition to comedy, other skills on display include dance, mime, pyrotechnics and puppetry; Barella in one routine drops straight down to the splits, following a second later with a high-kick and Gallagher seems to effortlessly lift up her partner and turn her upside down with the ease of a male ballerina! It is quite an undertaking, as all actors know, to perform dialogue almost constantly for an hour as a two-hander but to do so with constantly changing intricate physical movements and working with a huge array of props and costume items is a very big ask and these actors carry it all off with slick professionalism.

So what of the actual content of the show? It’s tempting to say next to nothing so as not to give away any spoilers but that would be unfair and there is so much in this show, it would take a very long review indeed to give away everything. There is certainly a very funny bit where Barella comes on as a used Tampon, in the guise of a male spiv, which actually is making a political point about why sweet, luxury foods are tax exempt whilst essential items (for women) such as Tampons are subject to VAT. It’s too funny to be seen as a political rant but the point is nonetheless made very effectively. Another very funny construct (occurring more than once in different guises) is sex being seen from a male perspective, through performance by females. Look out for bavella’s portrayal of a lecherous young man who continuously documents his exploits in a logbook entitled ‘Horny birds I’ve nobbed’. Even here, behind the comedy, there is a subtle socio-political point about how society has typically had a double-standard when it comes to viewing men and women in relation to sexual conduct. However, it’s not so much a gripe as a very funny piece of comedy theatre.

‘2 Clowns 1 Cup’ is a very, very funny show and perhaps is meant to give food for thought rather than having an agenda. It would be unfair to call it feminist because it’s not trying to prove anything; just putting things over, as they are, in a very funny way, which, when you think about it, has been the hallmark of so many of the great comedians, from Laurel and Hardy to the present day. If after reading this, you would still dare to go and see this show, Ugly Bucket are taking ‘2 Clowns 1 Cup’ to the Edinburgh Fringe next month.



Reviewer - John Waterhouse
on - 16/7/19

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