Welcome to Bowman’s family circus, where old favourite Lucille and her younger friend Cecilia – a pair of stunningly skilled sea lions – are certain to surprise and astound you! But what about after the shows; what hopes and cares and dreams do these two share?
This show successfully avoids the common pitfalls of absurdist comedy, instead delivering a piece that has an entertaining and coherent story. Beginning with after-show scenes that deliver excellent exposition, and introduce Trevor the trainer, the pair use this solid base to embrace absurdity and take a musical dive into the two animals' inner thoughts and dreams.
The performers’ characterisation of the sea lions is excellent; the duo work well together and off each other, and stay in character throughout. To evoke movement, they strike a good balance between literally lying on the floor lolloping and at other times walking – or rather waddling, losing none of the sealion effect. Similarly, sometimes they talk and sometimes they bark, and the use of each is well chosen and effective.
Plot is not sacrificed just for laughs. But there are plenty of laughs, although the scene with Lucille being groomed (and crying, feeling violated) for me was very much uncomfortable rather than comedic.
While Fringe companies often have to take whatever space they are offered, this particular show did suffer badly from the lack of a raised stage. With so much of the action, for obvious reasons, taking place on or near the floor, most of the audience could not see it.
But hopefully this absurdist piece will have an ongoing life elsewhere after the Fringe. It takes the concept of a performing sealion and produces a great comedy, that starts very plausibly and slowly, then gets more bizarre and incredible but without ever becoming silly. The duo’s performance really says "sealion" – while their physical comedy skills guarantee laughs.