Bread & Roses Theatre
Reviewed – 8th October 2017
“a cleverly composed spectacle by one versatile young actor”
Although it is difficult to comprehend how masterful one must be to create a one-man show that is meant to make a diverse audience laugh, I wish this difficult type of art was more popular. It turns out that to have a great evening, you need only one creative, naturally talented comic, with a particular ability to connect with his audience on a level that is somewhat hard to grasp.
Iain Gibbons certainly has many talents and attributes but what made his performance particularly engaging was his special aptness for observing and recreating almost real-life situations and his ability to later squeeze all the comedy out of them and deliver it to his appreciative audience. We all know the feeling of being welcomed by an usher who should be friendly and approachable, but is instead bossy and domineering, something that usually makes the less self-confident audience member uncomfortable, but here this was used as an aperitif that promised a farcical show ahead.
We also know that man in the audience who tries to behave theatre-appropriately by attempting to stay quiet, awake, and alert all at the same time. He happens to be waiting for his girlfriend but she of course never arrives, and the poor man has to entertain himself in all ways possible to pass the time. Who doesn’t recognise the universally frightening moment when an audience member (still Iain Gibbons) is invited to participate in the show: in this case by dancer Jacques-Baptiste Weckbach (also Iain Gibbons). This was all a part of a cleverly composed spectacle by one versatile young actor. The show suddenly merged into one piece when Mr. Weckbach became too fed up to continue performing and left just to be replaced by the usher, who had been dreaming to take up the stage.
In the final frenzy, all the three characters are on stage together, and this is what quite spectacularly showcased Iain’s talent. All of his creations were meticulously thought through, from the way they moved, through all the details of their voices, accents and their charisma. It never ceased to be surprising when Iain transformed from one character to another. Just when he made his audience comfortable with who he was and made them believe this was his true self, he would suddenly turn into someone else, equally convincing, leaving us pleasantly perplexed. Iain’s show was accompanied by perfectly chosen music. Masterpieces by Beethoven, Grieg, Ravel, Saint-Saens, among others, were there to drive and enhance both the dramatic and comic aspects of the show, which was an ambitious but successful manoeuvre.
A show that is meant for amusement almost doesn’t want to be scrutinised. We all laughed, we were kept on the edge of our seats, and we watched for the actor’s every move. Iain learnt from many great teachers, one of whom was the famous master clown Philippe Gaulier, who leads his own theatre school in Étampes, France. If anyone finds it a little surprising that there are schools out there that specialise in clown training, I am now convinced that they are an important addition to our educational institutions. Gaulier said that it takes a special talent to bring your inner clown out and connect with the audience. Iain Gibbons certainly has that special talent. You need him in your life.
Reviewed by Aleksandra Myslek
was at The Bread & Roses Theatre as part of Clapham Fringe Festival