City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

The Various Lives of Infinite Nullity Review

By Irene Brown - Posted on 23 August 2013

Clout image for The Various Lives...
Show details
Clout Theatre
Running time: 
Jennifer Swingler and Mine Çerçi (directors), Jennifer Swingler, Sacha Plaige, George Ramsay (devisers), Steven Martin (sound design), Miena Mizusaki (lighting design), Helen Goodman (producer)
Jennifer Swingler, Sacha Plaige, George Ramsay

The clowning genius of Clout is back! Once again the Demonstration Room at Summerhall is graced with the presence of three young masters of the art of Bouffon. What started as an ode to Flann O’Brien, an Irish master in absurdist writing, turned out to be a piece that puts Clout’s very own gleefully grotesque stamp on the world of the absurd.

To a strange thrumming sound in the background, two enormous white faced children with ghoulish green eyes slurp and gurgle coloured drinks in a playground where a third child is skipping. With few props – three cups and saucers, a ladder and a bucket - and discreet and simple costume shifts behind the plastic backdrop, these three Lecoq trained actors go through various stages of life and death with the odd sexual perversion through clowning dexterity.

They die in shocking out-of-the-blue incidents as random as in real life, but pop back to life with the cartoon qualities of characters from Voltaire’s Candide and with the sinister child’s play of Potter’s Blue Remembered Hills. This slyly comic exposé of the grim side of life is exquisitely performed using simple imagery of a stage of plastic sheets and is smoothly directed by Jennifer Swingler and Mine Çerçi.

In a bizarre Dead People’s Anonymous session the three narrate details of their lives and deaths, cataloguing of the negatives of being dead and their methods and reasons for choosing suicide. Their clowning genius invites us to join in the grim fascination with sex and death and unfortunate lives. George Ramsay’s sly and leering eyes showing the childish wickedness of a blood licking school boy; Jennifer Swingler’s Bren gun- speed list of a woman’s day to day tasks even as she is being buried and Sacha Plaige’s clip clopping pimp/prostitute are just some of the brilliant realisations of microscopically observed and studied gestures.

The slightly tinny arcade sound of the 1961 recording by Gene Pitney singing Every Little Breath I Take that is the occasional background music is strangely fitting among the gruesome madness that this company makes ingeniously acceptable and funny.

The show’s title may does not easily trip off the tongue but though there is plenty of falling down, this fine band of Bouffons does not trip up. Gloriously mad absurdity!

Show times

2- 26 August, 3pm


£10 (£8)

Suitability 14+