Review By Tessa Stickland
This is everything I want in a clown show.
It’s almost hard to review because I had such a nice time? But okay let’s do it.
First of all, if you hate audience interaction, alas this isn’t for you. (Though you might get away with any individual audience interaction (/being ‘picked on’) if you sit in the back row in the far corner. Even then… I dunno. Because it’s hard to get away from the performer at The Motley Bauhaus.)
Luckily for me, I love audience interaction. It’s a tiny version of the thrill of performing, but without most of the risk, and without any planning. I get to feel like I’ve influenced the show (whether I actually have or not), which is great because I love power and attention.
Jeromaia Detto captivates the audience with his series of clown characters and ‘games’. I put games in inverted commas for the non-clown trained *cough* yeah, I did a 5 day intensive clown class in 2019 *cough* as they’re not typical games. They’re even a bit different to theatre games and warmups.
There isn’t a proper win or lose status. There aren’t teams. It’s not the audience versus the clown. It’s the base sense of game: something with structure for amusement or fun.
Each character Detto inhabits has a simple rule or set of rules for themself and the audience to follow. Once the audience has learnt the game, sometimes Detto flips the script and changes the rule briefly before returning to the status quo. Subversion of expectation! That’s comedy!
I don’t want to go into details, as the joy and humour comes from the exploration and interplay between audience and performer. Knowing wouldn’t spoil it – but I think there would be less wonderment.
I wanted to make up an example for you. But I can’t think of anything clear or as funny as what Detto does. So I’ll explain one of his early bits.
He is a waiter, frozen in place on stage. When an audience member laughs or makes a noise, he starts to move. When it’s silent, he becomes still again. As we work out what’s going on, we begin to make more noise so he can move around. He goes towards a tray of champagne glasses and picks one up. He walks towards the person applauding loudest. Someone else cheers louder. He moves towards them. Someone gives a standing ovation. He moves towards them instead. And so on.
They’re all ‘simple’ ideas, but expertly executed. It takes a professional to know how long to let each game/character go for. Judging how long a segment is entertaining for, while also keeping it to 55 minutes.
Mush is a show where you really get to play with the performer. It’s like a performing arts class where you don’t have to do any of the work. You don’t have to think. You just play.
The one worry is if you get an audience member (like we had) who gets main character syndrome and thinks it’s all about them. Trying to be funny themselves.
Like, babe, that’s not what we’re here for! Yes, there’s an exchange between performer and audience – but it’s not about the audience initiating that exchange with other audience members. Calm down! You don’t need to crack a joke. We already have someone doing that (and actually succeeding).
Despite my obvious saltiness towards this person… Detto was calm and cordial about it. It did reach a point where if this person tried to make a joke, he’d sorta leave a beat and then move on. He didn’t dismiss them, but he didn’t give them the same amount of acknowledgement that he gave everyone else (and have given to them previously).
After the show, I learnt that Detto trained at the French clown school, Ecole Philippe Gaulier. I’m wondering if I might just be a simp for Gaulier trained clowns… What does this say about me… Anyway; it’s a grand old time.
If you enjoy silly, absurd, and playful comedy, you’ll like Mush. It’s a delightful combo of gut gripping slapstick dumbness, groan worthy puns, and high level wit. I laughed so damn much.