Heart-stealing classic clowning from Swiss company Baccalà
This article is from 2016.
If you're a proficient acrobat and aerialist – as Camilla Pessi and Simone Fassari who make up Swiss company Baccalà so clearly are – surely one of the most humbling, selfless things you can do is use your skills to make yourself look incompetent, in the hope of revealing some truth about human nature, and along the way making people laugh.
Such is the beauty of the clown, and here are two clowns at the very top of their game. Pessi and Fassari seem like the innocent love children of Fellini and Mr Bean, their woeful, simple, timeless vagabondry a canvas on which they paint marvellous details. That they can draw so many facial expressions and laughs out of the act of sharing an apple – or not, as is the case in the mean world of clowns – is a mark of the clown's power to charm and humble an audience into seeing our own foibles.
Emotions are distilled down to their basest levels – covetousness, gluttony, the need for attention – and problems are solved in the most irrational way – look out for the ladder if you're in the bottom half of the theatre.
Fassari's posturing as he tries to sex up a diablo act reveals the gulf between fantasy and reality – what we think we look like when we're trying to be cool, and the cruel reality. Pessi meanwhile can tease out a string of laughs just by pompously hogging the limelight with an accordion. But it's the pair's aerial skills – or apparent lack of – that are the grubby cherries on this glorious cake. Clambering, slipping, stomping, they demonstrate the sort of strength most acrobats would expect a round of applause for rather than a laugh – happily they receive both.
Assembly Roxy, 623 3030, until 29 Aug (not 15), 4pm, £12--£14 (£11--£13).