It’s almost always a pleasure to see actors enjoying themselves on stage – I say ‘almost’ merely to account for the occasions when, for whatever reason, the production itself isn’t as good as its cast and creatives think it to be. This show, thankfully, is in fine form. With Bad Clowns: Hostage comes laughs aplenty, explorations into the absurd, and a trio who, between them, keep one another, and the audience, on their proverbial toes. One gets the impression that no two shows are quite the same. There is a prepared narrative of sorts – goodness knows there are enough references to Christian Dart and Sam Walls having co-written the show, and with the number of sound and lighting cues throughout the one-act performance, it’s clear some thought has gone into the production.
That said, there is plenty of scope to go off-script, which all of the characters do – quite often. Audience reactions (or indeed non-reactions) are acknowledged and little, if anything, goes unnoticed, not even the nightclub noise leaking from The Pod Bar next door to the Time and Leisure Studio. It is assumed that Walls has Dart, John Bond (the ‘other’ actor, for near-desperate want of a better paraphrase) and the audience held hostage and under threat of being shot. Hence the title ‘Hostage’: every door was assumed to be locked. But then came a particularly amusing moment when nature called, and someone popped out discreetly to use the facilities, inadvertently proving to all and sundry that there was no lockdown after all.
The show was positively received at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and having immersed myself significantly more deeply in the Fringe experience this year than ever before, I can see why. It is partly drama about drama, and therefore relatable to the many people in the entertainment industry who might happen to drop in on a show like this. I dare say it is relatable for some regular theatregoers too, particularly those who have experienced a production so bad that if a prison escapee waving around a gun in his hand were to interrupt proceedings, it would be an act of mercy.
Rather than wait for Walls to be released from prison for – well, whatever it was that justified being handed down a custodial sentence – Dart decides to star, produce and direct (and, apparently, cater) in a production of the play the pair had written together. There are so many diversions and distractions that the plotline of the play within the play ends up being neither here nor there. But for the record, it appears to have been someone’s life story, possibly from cradle to grave, though the story doesn’t, as far as I recall, progress beyond working age, mostly because of a subplot involving Walls and the police, who call so frequently the television game show Deal or No Deal came to mind.
There is, fortunately, or unfortunately, a modicum of audience participation – all I will say is that as ever with a comedy show, one sits in the front row at one’s own risk. The actors are not afraid to make light of one another – in a jovial, friendly manner, mind you – and the end result is a slick, briskly-paced and wonderfully anarchic production. I’d happily see it all again.
Review by Chris Omaweng
What happens when a crazed madman takes a comedy show and its audience hostage? Find out in the Bad Clowns maddest show yet. On the run from the law, with a secret vendetta involving a brand new show. Full of twists and turns as the talented actors perform for the laughs, the thrills and their very lives!
Winners of the IYAF 2018 Best Comedy Show Award and Leicester Square Theatre Sketch Off! finalists 2018.
A trio of comedic delights made up of close friends John Bond, Christian Dart and Sam Walls. With their blend of unique sketch and improv comedy the Bad Clowns have performed at various festivals around the UK including the Edinburgh Fringe.
Time and Leisure Studio
93 The Broadway, Wimbledon, London SW19 1QG
Booking to 10th November 2018