The idea of the poor man with a pocket full of dreams in his shabby, baggy pants is not new but is one that continues to appeal.
In this new children’s show starring professional children’s entertainer and magician Clive Andrews as his clown alter ego Jango Starr, the silent narrative is of a clumsy, awkward back stage hand who serves as a lackey to the top hatted smoothie with the stage name of Fantastico. Like Katie Brown, the hopeful maid of glamourous singer Miss Adelaide Adams in Calamity Jane, this duster coated guy with a broom just wants a chance.
One Man Shoe is a salute to the silent skills of Charlie Chaplin and Jacques Tati who each embodied the poignancy of a person living on the fringes, never quite being part of things. But this very fact allows for observation and in this case this world weary man has observed and picked up the magic skills of the maestro. The character behaves with the clever clumsy ineptitude of a naïve Frank Spencer bringing squeals of delight from the children in the Brunton’s audience as he uses classic clowning skills to lose a shoe and find a banana inside, manoeuvre his broom handle down his trousers or put his coat on with the coat rack still attached.
On this backstage setting, superbly lit by Carly Barr, he goes through (almost) every trick in the book as he unpacks box after box for his boss revealing his own considerable skills. Music from Philip Pinsky gives the air of a Montmartre carousel and some cheeky oom pah pahs that lend the right atmosphere, tipping a wink at French mime and comic speech- free films of Tati.
When it eventually becomes clear that Fantastico has done a runner, abracadabra, Becky Minto’s clever wee set takes centre stage with Jango Starr as he finally gets to do his stuff in out front. Here the clever audience became his ‘audience’ clapping the tricks that they’d only watched in silence when he is ‘backstage’!
This is a charming, innocent show in the expert hands of Gerry Mulgrew as director and Janis Claxton as choreographer from a man of indisputable talent. Yet while the tale of the shambling underdog making it to the spotlight is heart-warming, somehow it doesn’t quite hit the spot. Instead, much of the time it feels like a vehicle to show off Andrews’ array of skills like a conveyor belt of magic tricks, not to mention some white rabbit puppetry and sleight of hand, that looked to have a subduing reaction at least at the Brunton. Neither enough shrieks of laughter nor enough tears of the clown.
for ages 5–11 and families 17 February 2016 2pm and on tour throughout Scotland till April.