Sunday, 18 April 2010


15/4/10, Lyric Hammersmith

1 hr 15 mins. Two (real-life) brothers called Marquez playing all the parts in a succession of double acts based around the idea of an Italian travelling circus: an evil circus-owner and his dumb brother; a gruff father and his dumb son (and the dumb son's brother, now a puppet kept in a carpet bag); a pair of "birdmen", one of whom climbs into a suitcase while the two of them whistle vigorously; a pair of unfunny clowns. Played in the Lyric's studio space with the audience seated on two sides looking diagonally across the playing area.

Not sure if the evening as a whole was meant to be funny, but it largely wasn't. It was supposed to blend slapstick and melodrama and circus and murder and revenge and repetitive variety routines and so on. Chiefly notable for the incredible quick costume changes, often behind a curtain which swished vigorously backwards and forwards. But pretending to be unfunny for comic effect and parodying the tawdry pointlessness of many circus acts only works if you are yourself funny and talented: otherwise it's tawdry and pointless. Some of it was childish but the language and some of the blacker moments clearly weren't suitable for children. The gruff father, who doubled as narrator, was called "Papa Roni", which gives you some idea.

The odd nice touch: the evil circus-owner was murdered at the end with his brother by the gruff father, among whose props was a pair of red shoes that had belonged to his son's dead mother... the red shoes ended up in the dead men's mouths. (The only problem: the shoes were attached out of sight to the bottom of a table, and were meant to be snatched up and deployed during a blackout, but one of them kept falling out of its clips as the table was used in other scenes, so the surprise was lost.)

Originated at the Belgrade in Coventry where it got deservedly poor reviews. Happily it only cost us a fiver on one of the Lyric's Friends Nights.

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