The Flop (3 stars)

The Flop

Clown comedy that doesn't quite stand up

Covering the final trial for criminal impotence in pre-revolutionary France, The Flop is a clown show that enjoys the silliness of a judicial system obsessed with male genital efficiency without descending into predictable vulgarity. Yet it never manages to overcome the inconsequentiality of this historical oddity and revels in slapstick and broad humour.

The talented cast manage to capture their characters' quirks and hint at the personal tragedy of a naive couple torn apart by family politics, but the promise of a full band accompaniment is rapidly replaced by familiar clowning antics. The Flop promises frolics and fun, but frequently fails to fulfill: brief asides about control of women's bodies threatens to draw comparisons with contemporary concerns, but this theme disappears into the plot.

The few meta-theatrical techniques, inevitably connected to the hilarity of one actor playing multiple parts, are predictable, the touches of pantomime solid, yet the comedy is pleasant rather than uproarious. The central marriage is depicted as tender, naive yet sincere, but The Flop majors on mocking the stupidity of social conventions while looking back to the past as a bizarre other country.

Summerhall, until 26 Aug (not 13, 20), 4.55pm £12 (£8).

The Flop

  • 3 stars

A Hijinx production in association with Spymonkey Paris. 1650-ish. Impotence is illegal. When a member of the aristocracy is accused of being less than upstanding, his wounded pride leads him towards a monumental and very public flop. But can a cast of total idiots save a show about a flop… from being one? The creators…

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