Beyond the Ridiculous at The Wardrobe Theatre

Before I saw Beyond the Ridiculous my life meant nothing. Nothing at all. Now after one night of these bunch of fools my life has meaning and purpose once more. Seriously though, I was a bit fed up before getting on down to the Wardrobe and indulging in an evening with these crazies and now I have pieces of joy firmly wedged in my eyes.

Beyond the Ridiculous is made up of twenty-one fools and each performance contains a fraction of them. Tonight there were five solo performances, three big and two little, with moments as an ensemble. Holly Stoppit is a grand master of fools, some may claim her as their queen, a shining leader of a growing cult of foolishness in Bristol and beyond. Holly weaves magic into the air as she skilfully brings the unseen and unspoken into being. Holly leads the audience along a narrow path towards fooling, she facilitates the audience and grasps what ‘is’ on this particular Sunday night. She says ‘You might feel some stuff. Feeling stuff is good and it’s not TV.’

You never know who or what you are going to get in a fooling performance as the performers do not plan what they are going to do. It’s live improvisation. Performers create characters from their emotional impulses and bring to life the many different people one person can contain. A fruit cocktail of fools is on offer. Fools is a word for being real in the moment and committing to that moment, regardless of how ridiculous you may look or be to yourself or others. The humanness that this brings to the stage allows the audience to connect and relate and create resonance. This is the real magic. The essence of what brings people back again and again. This and the activation of love in the air and the wetting your pants with laughter. And that extra special feeling that you’re not alone with all the voices in your head, you are just another transparent fool.

The first piece of fruit on the stage was Adam Blake, he began with a familiar scene in the fooling world. He starts with ‘I don’t know about you but sometimes I just want to be by myself.’ The audience erupts with laughter as he is a solo performer trying to hide under a bench. He carries on “How many times have you said, ‘I just want to hide under a bench and you have not.’” Adam is a puppeteer of hilarity, watching him puppeteer himself is a roller coaster ride. Adam is transformed in the performance to a place of peace, as the gorillas in his head arrive on stage and swing from heart to heart with their huge gorilla hands.

Each performer brings to the stage their wealth of expertise. Chez Dumford brings a lightness that comes with a body that is used to dance. Chez begins with breathing and putting one foot in front of the other with her new shoes. New shoes that gain power and allow her to overcome the doom filled world and ….fly. She chants ‘Fuck you government. Fuck you cuts. I’ve got new shoes that make me fly.’ Ever generous, Chez takes the audience with her and we all put on our imaginary shoes, shout ‘Fuck you doom’ and fly with her. We are left with the answer to life the universe and everything – frankly a bargain for the ticket price. You can literally feel lives being changed in the theatre and smiles break out all over the place.

Chez says:
1. Have a little chat
2. New shoes
3. Ward off the impending doom with interpretive dance.
We are all saved – with flying shoes and dance.

Stephanie Kempson explores the stage and arrives in the spotlight where she belongs. She is a natural born story teller; each impulse she has on stage arrives as a fully formed character with a developing story-line. Stephanie works as a director and it is fascinating to see her step outside of the three characters she creates 1. A New Zealander with a disco ball in the boot of his car. 2. A mum who blogs about her children. 3. An alien. Stephanie facilitates them to a point of connection and moves them on as she directs both her own characters and the developing story. Her finale as the super-heroine ‘Vagina Woman’ could become a whole show in itself, or a cartoon or simply a role model for our times.

What more can I say? It’ll all be completely different at the next show. Believe it or not all these stories simply become real in that unique moment on the stage then leave in the minds of the audience.

Change your life, shake the doom from your hair. Go see Beyond the Ridiculous – re-energise yourself, the street and the world around you. Spread the sparkles. Get a ticket. Sunday 4th Dec / Sunday 4th January – get two tickets. It’ll be like seeing two completely different shows.


Beyond the Ridiculous next shows at the Wardrobe Theatre on Sunday 4th December
Image by Adam Fung, with thanks

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