Flabbergast Theatre have been Edinburgh Fringe favourites for the last few years, with their darkly comic and indisputably lovable puppets Boris & Sergey; so I was especially intrigued to see their new work Tatterdemalion at Camden People’s Theatre.
A Tatterdemalion, for all those who don’t know, is a ragamuffin wearing tattered and ragged clothing, and this is who we meet, as performed by Flabbergast’s Artistic Director Henry Maynard, a bearded man in an old granny’s nightdress. He intrigues and engages from the first second, the character’s delicate personality and his relationship with the audience.
This vaudevillian mime was wonderful to watch, fizzing and brimming with ideas, although occasionally slipping into too much repetition, it’s the smallest complaint for a work early in its development.
There is something incredibly beautiful about seeing a work that feels so home grown and craft-based, especially when compared to the epic spectacles of many West End shows. Not everything is handed on a plate, but the moment you give something back the whole world of Tatterdemalion opens up. I must say, especially for those in the front row – becoming as much of the performance as the Tatterdemalion himself.
Occasionally the piece felt like something from a Victorian circus act, with witty physical humour at its core, but then nuanced with sparks of the modern – be it in the playing-it-cool glances Maynard gave the audience or the dark undertones of a seemingly blissful marriage.
Hopefully when Tatterdemalion is developed for the Fringe we can maybe cut down on his initial self-introduction and get a bit more of his storytelling, as that’s where the magic of this piece lies.
The story may not be particularly clear, but, the hour flew by thanks to the heart and soul of the work. Flabbergast theatre are a company to watch, I certainly will be.
Review by Isabella Van Braeckel
From the creators of Boris & Sergey comes a one man show featuring puppetry, physical comedy, and mime. Tatterdemalion is a brand new show from Flabbergast Theatre, presented by Henry Maynard. Tatterdemalion scooped the Judges Award at the Mimetic Festival while still a work in progress, Henry now brings this new one man clowning show to Camden People’s Theatre for the first short run of this new work.
With clowning at the heart of this comedic piece of theatre, Henry has developed a touching, absurd and often magical show, which explores the themes of loneliness and belonging side by side with joy and exhilaration.
Audiences are invited to join our hero for a silent expedition as they witness one man’s quest for a friend.
Pathos, dark humour and Victorian aesthetics combine to create a wonderful and mysterious backdrop to a surreal and poetic journey.
Flabbergast was set up to make uncompromising and exciting physical theatre drawing on the Bunraku style of puppetry, and on their belief that all theatre should be engaging and sweaty.
Camden People’s Theatre
Friday 16th January to Sunday 18th January 2015