This show is a homage to possibly the world's greatest clown, film director and actor; Jacque Tati. Those of you who don't know who Jacque Tati is could do little better than go and see this show and then go out and buy all his DVDs. Those of you who do know this French phenomenon probably have your tickets booked already.
Chris Cresswell the creator and lead of this show delivers a studied, comedic and touching analysis of Tati, the clown. At well over 6ft and a thin lanky build Cresswell already has the key physical traits of the subject and he clearly has a great admiration and significant understanding of the mechanics of Tati's approach.
The show is a hybrid of many things; lecture, demonstration, vignettes and insights and the gentle but touching laughter of Tati's approach to comedy. There is some clever audience participation, but don't let that put you off, it's collaborative and in no way exploits the people who have come to see him. Different scenes representing Tati's film canon are created on the stage, none of them are slavish copies but something rather more clever; they are skilful demonstrations of the carefully orchestrated elements that Tati built in layer, upon layer, upon layer in his work. A beach scene with its origins in 'Monsieur Hulot's Holiday' is phenomenal and his use of the audience to create a crowded railway station platform reminiscent of Tati's financially disastrous; 'PlayTime' is remarkable. A section involving a bird cage was for me too long and did not capture to the same extent the Tati magic.
For a Festival Fringe that is populated by lots of comedians, clowns and people trying to be funny, this show is a fascinating counterpoint, an exploration of comedy, a partial analysis of a maestro, a comedic rendition of a style seldom seen as it is so subtle and studied and difficult to master. It is also a touching bow to the remarkable achievements of a film making legend, who's directorial skills I would put alongside if not a little way ahead of Coppola or Scorcese.
As you can probably tell I'm a Tati fan myself so it was with some anxiety I approached this premiere show. I needn't have been concerned, Cresswell handles Tati with refinement and respect and is ably supported by a small cast of four co-performers who have the Tati DNA in their veins. Watch them go through their paces in the beach montage. A show well worth seeing to both enjoy the laughter and remember what true comedy is all about.
Show times 3 to the 28 August, (Not 16 or 23) 12:10 (13:00)
Ticket prices £9-£7