Good Clown Bad Clown, Bristol Old Vic

5 12 2011

The squeals let you know that the children Good Clown Bad Clown is aimed at give it their resounding seal of approval. Even my nine-month-old daughter Mersina, balanced on my lap for the first 20 minutes before she took to scampering around the balcony, giggled, gurgled and clapped her hands at the antics on stage, granted not all at the correct time, but tacit approval nevertheless.

Good Clown Bad Clown is performed by three actors, Chris Farish as Hiphop, Ian Summers as Zimzam and Alison Fitzjohn as Dolly Dimple, each playing a variety of characters, especially the fantastic Fitzjohn, from marionette to moustachioed theatre-goer, as Hiphop journeys a la Pinocchio after Zimzam tricks him out of his circus.

Adapted from a North American fairytale about two landowners, one who was cruel to his workers, the other kind, this a story of two clowns, one cruel, the other kind. It’s only an hour long but fits a lot into this stretch of time, guaranteeing that there’s no time for fidgeting especially when water-firing flowers are being pointed at the front row.

There are laughs aplenty but it’s not all fun and games, with Summers giving Zimzam a genuinely vindictive streak, relishing in causing more and more grief to the hapless Hiphop. Meanwhile, Fitzjohn’s she-devil is one of writer Renata Allan’s best creations, her song about the evil evil evil that she creates a real crowd pleaser.

While not chasing my daughter around the balcony, I saw enough of Good Clown Bad Clown to enjoy its humour and heart-warming tale of adventure, love and redemption, with director John Retallack using typical Bristol Old Vic creative flair to turn ladders into boats and balloons into rocks.

Children of all ages will love Good Clown Bad Clown, and that’s about as high a recommendation as this children’s show can receive.

Good Clown Bad Clown is at Bristol Old Vic until January 7. Click here for more info.


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