I tried on my daughter’s big clown slippers for this one. They’re fun to wear, always provoke merriment, and invite pratfalls. They would have done for Pig Circus, except that the show is young and there’s a lot of bounding around. Real clowns couldn’t keep up and would be flat on their arses within minutes.
Which brings me to Boris, Liam, David, and Theresa: the regrettable stars of this verbatim show about the farce that Brexit has become – and, it now appears, always was. It is a devised, verbatim, piece that opens with the result of the 2016 referendum (declaration of interests: I voted to remain) and ends two years on with the UK facing either a hard exit or an even harder exit. Oh, well done you clowns!
You can spot them straightaway. They wear suits, Union Jack kipper ties, Tory blue rosettes, and red and white make-up. They offer embarrassed wide smiles and then turn, ashamed, from their voters; sorry, audience. Their speech sounds hollow, painfully rehearsed and either wishful or plain ridiculous.
They advance, waving a flag, talk rubbish (verbatim remember) and then retreat into a huddle before the next ill-starred foray. The EU’s golden stars are ripped off a hula hoop and there’s cavorting to Heaven Is A Place On Earth with a new-look British passport. The soundtrack continues with Highway to Hell via Jerusalem, with Jacob Rees-Mogg as your tour guide. Subtle, low-key, complex it ain’t; but it’s artful and not slapstick.
Pig Circus is Hitchhiker Collective’s debut production. There are four performers; Sophie Brown, Rosaline Hodgetts, Sonia Thakurdesai, and Sam Lockwood, and they put on a good show – especially Lockwood, who had the greater share of brainless remarks and postures
At one point a parody of Question Time is too long and no-one looks that comfortable in their extended roles. Anyway, how on earth do you imitate Liam Fox? The movement routines are demanding and at times looked the awkward side of intentionally clumsy. Arguably they had too much space and would have been better in a tighter arrangement – a circus ring suggests itself, naturally. And a louder partisan audience would have helped. I couldn’t help but think that Pig Circus would have gone down a treat in Festival Square during Saturday’s People’s Vote rally.
I liked the one-sided assault, and the political conviction is evident, but I still question the title. Is it borrowed from the States, meaning something phony and self-serving? Anyway, however Brexit turns out, it is certainly not done in the name of these performers – or of writer Tyler Rainford. It would have been good, if perhaps beyond budget, to have printed reminders of what these clowns have got away with. Where are the tears?