Coulrophobia at Tobacco Factory Theatres

Coulrophobia = the fear of clowns. Perfect title for this show, even the clowns are afraid of clowns and puppets, or is it just puppets of clowns? As the audience enters the auditorium the mayhem has begun to unravel. All the seat numbers have been removed and people are forced to talk to each other, negotiate, let go, put on a bewildered look and enter into the cardboard world of Coulrophobia

Adam and Dik begin by creating and finding the joy in simple movements, playfully bringing the audience into their world. Sound effects, along with the clowns’ imaginations create ‘real’ animals that emerge onto the stage one by one. This is an interactive show which may strike a sense of fear into some theatre goers. Leave those fears at the door or put it under your seat or wear it in a tiny corner of your eye but do not let it stop you from seeing this show. These clowns are clowns but also are hugely experienced and highly skilled performers; ‘Pickled Image’ have over twenty years’ experience and it shows in the expert way Adam and Dik deal with each other and the whole auditorium. I saw their previous show, Shop of Little Horrors, which also had an adept mix of light/dark themes and left a lasting impression on me (and my children!).

Adam and Dik play with escalation gleefully and the light/dark mix of clowning in this show is delicious. The two clowns are manipulated by ‘Mr.Poco’, a grotesque puppet, who had me in stitches. The treacle thick rebellion that Adam brings to the duo is delivered with perfect timing. Believe me, I will view sock puppets in a whole new shadowy light from now on.

The movement motifs that are placed throughout the show mean that the ending is inevitable. It’s impossible not to laugh. My cheeks ached when I left the theatre.

The whole world really is made of cardboard even down to the props that the puppets of the clowns have. You still with me? (In amongst the chaos of the cardboard world, we visit a smaller version of the cardboard world in puppet form).

This show is back by popular demand; the last run was a complete sell out. So get your tickets before they are gone and prepare for anarchic sweary nude clowns (even if the nudity is somewhat disappointing (!) ) – the best kind of clowns.

Here’s a teaser. Check out the trailer.

Coulrophobia plays at Tobacco Factory Theatres until 10th November

image by Adam DJ Laity, with thanks

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