At the Fringe 2015, I was tickled pink by Buckle Up, a brilliantly devised, farcical play about the crazy crew on Budge-It, a seriously no frills, airline, with the audience as unwitting passengers.
The Buckle Up company is back with a new show, Journeys, described as a physical comedy, based on clowning and buffoonery which is defined as “behaviour that is ridiculous but amusing.”
Unfortunately, after an hour of tedious, repetitive facial grimaces, and clichéd, cod French, Italian, German accents – it’s certainly ridiculous, but very little to amuse.
Two men and two women clutching vintage leather suitcases, struggle to cope with crowded trains and revolving doors. With just a soundtrack of garbled station announcements and guard whistles, not a word is spoken, apart from an occasional “Scuzi!”
The luggage, a few costumes and backdrop photography indicate we are in war-torn central Europe, c 1940s, but with no dialogue, it’s all rather confusing; a glossy theatre programme is all about the actors, with no details on the characters, setting and storyline.
You can expect a great deal of rushing around, perpetual wide eyed expressions, using suitcases and chairs as props and furniture. The text is just the occasional shout of Magnifico, Stupido, Mammy and lots of Scuzi!, when they bump into each other.
The comedic material and theatrical style is all rather unoriginal and derivative, combining the Silent Movie silliness of Mr Bean, caricatures from the sit- com, Allo Allo, with spoof language as used in the Fast Show weather forecast, which was always Scorchio!
Rob Taylor-Hastings has a particularly manic approach as a Hugh Grant look alike, complete with floppy hair and a pained, puzzled grin, while Genevieve Dunne, who trained at the Jacques Lecoq theatre school, expresses a talent for mime and subtle mannerisms.
Journeys is certainly performed with pace and energy. a whirlwind of pantomimic sketches but with no tangible narrative of people and place, this train seems to be stuck in a tunnel, going nowhere.
Until, that is, the final two minutes when, in the shadowy silence against a stunning film backdrop, our travellers seem to have arrived at their destination. The mood changes radically from hilarity to a glimpse of tragedy.
If only this image of refugees seeking escape and freedom had been the starting point to clarify and develop the backbone of their story through comedy and drama.
P.S. Next year, please stage a performance of “Buckle Up” – the Sequel. I shall be the first on board!
8 – 29 August @ 13.15
Ticket prices: £8 (£7). Weekends, £9 (£8)