Waiting for Stanley
Keep calm and carry on clowning
This article is from 2012.
A woman with a red clown nose waits on a luggage-filled railway platform for her wartime sweetie to return. As her wait grows, she raids the suitcases around her, each contributing props to a captivating series of tales drawn from the experiences of London women during WWII: being a mother, waiting out the Blitz, and making do and mending.
Leela Bruce is the architect of this captivating one-woman performance, opening each box of tricks to reveal a world rich in imagination. Never has a pile of socks had such an illustrious career in metaphor. She turns an abundance of tenderly manipulated puppets, lighting effects, sound cues and other trickery into an affecting narrative that teeters between all-out comedy and heart-rending tragedy, with a few songs from the era thrown in for good measure.
Like the way in which her wide-leg trousers, khaki jumper and two-tone brogues work to convey both 1940s landgirl style and traditional clowning costumes, Bruce’s biggest achievement is her balancing act and via her inventive stagecraft and charismatic persona she revitalises national wartime myths. Not bad for a clown.
Assembly Roxy, 623 3030, until 26 Aug, 3.45pm, £10–£12 (£8–£10).