Soho Theatre, Soho, London, 15/10/2019.
There’s been quite the increase in clowning over the past few years, I first noticed it when Doctor Brown became a big hit on these shores but I’m sure there are plenty of other examples who precede him. More recently a good few comedians have received enormous acclaim for playing around with the genre, with Natalie Palamides, Courtney Paruso and Spencer Jones all becoming deservedly popular, and now Lucy Pearman definitely deserves to be added to this list of stellar comics who do absurdly silly things on stage as her show is a joyously fantastic one.
Hers is a quite different kind of clowning to those who I’ve mentioned so far, it has the most in common with Spencer Jones (somewhat fittingly as she plays his wife in Jones’ sitcom The Mind Of Herbert Clunkerdunk) as it’s pretty lighthearted and packed with a lot of silliness and inventive prop gags, and nowhere near as dark as Palamides and Paruso’s clowning efforts, though like those shows Pearman’s has a narrative running through the entire hour and has a very satisfying conclusion indeed.
The theme of the show is that Pearman is desperate to get away, but she’s at an airport and unable to get through security as she’s got too much baggage, which is both literally the case and a metaphor for the situation that she’s found herself in. It’s the kind of show which would be really spoilt by describing in detail so I’ll only mention what happens at the very beginning, where she takes to the stage wearing a suitcase, and seems reluctant to remove it, gradually taking out various items in the hope that she’ll be let on to the plane.
There’s a lot of audience participation but it’s not the kind which feels mean or cruel in any way, and though the show may vary depending on who she chooses to include Pearman’s an accomplished improviser and so I’m sure it’d still be as funny as this particular performance was, where a man called Ross did like to ramble away but Pearman made it extremely amusing stuff rather than irritating. Also a big part of the set was an exceedingly polite man who acted as the baggage handler, whose sweetness and consideration towards Pearman led to his part also being a very funny one.
The show even manages to have a poignant ending despite all the silliness that surrounds it, and it’s definitely one of the best pieces of British clowning that I’ve ever seen. It’s not quite up there with Palamides and Pauroso but those are two of the best comedy shows I’ve seen in a long time, and given how talented, imaginative and just downright hilarious Pearman is I’ve no doubt that she’ll soon be joining them as an example of the very best comic talent around.