A Drop Of The Dark Stuff

Clout Theatre: How A Man Crumbled

I’ve got a real love of Bouffon. For those of you who have never had the pleasure to witness it, Bouffon is the grotesque side of clowning. It’s European generally, although there’s definitely an overlap in physical performance terms with dance and theatre from the Far East, a la Noh theatre and Butoh, The Dance of Darkness.

Bouffon, which originates from the French, means “to puff out your cheeks and blow a raspberry”. It’s disturbing; it’s beautiful; it’s funny, it’s horrific. The iconic theatre maker Jacques Lecoq has influenced a lot of recent work. It’s everywhere, the wild pushing at physical limitations. The players are often covered in white chalky make-up, like ghostly figures, or dusty relics. The work is caustic, capricious, bizarre. It goes to satirical corners. It’s a strange, twitching beast, tethered in a dark part of our psyche, willing to be unleashed and left to roam around, causing mayhem.

Clout Theatre are one of my favourites. Their work is so savage, otherly and gorgeous, it gives you shivers. How A Man Crumbled had cabbage related violence. Excellent, just what you want to see on stage. You can never tell what they’ll do next, and that’s more exciting than at least 99% of scripted theatre.

Die! Die! Die! Old People Die! Photo by Bryony Jackson

Ridiculusmus, who I saw again for the second time the other night, are oddly beguiling. Their new show Die! Die! Die! Old People Die! proved divisive, moving at a snail’s pace and being preoccupied with bodily fluids, fucking and decrepitude. Some people in the audience in front of me and my friend looked confused and disgusted. Good. I think the best work can be baffling or horrible to some, lovely to others.

The Chairs. Photos by Diarmuid O’ Flaherty

Then, there’s the fantastic Blue Raincoat, whose adaptation of Ionesco’s The Chairs has stayed with me for years. It was like slapstick, pickled in vinegar and nails. I love this stuff. Like a drop of good red wine, it’s intoxicating and dizzying, but careful – you may end up on the floor, sobbing and vomiting, after too much of it.

Published by loreleiirvine

I'm a freelance arts monkey. Come see my brain vomit.

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