Finders Keepers

Hot Coals Theatre have put together a slick physical comedy, full of beat-perfect gags leaving you laughing out loud at the flick of an eyebrow, whilst some of the more grotesque may make you gag. Mixing visual jokes, intelligent quips and lashings of toilet humour, the two performers bring the grotesque world on stage to life.

This is a simultaneously grimy and charming piece of great physical comedy

Welcome to the Pharaoh & Sons Daughters Junkyard, inhabited by a delightfully disgusting father and daughter duo, who live peacefully until a mysterious figure on the run from the law abandons a small, swaddled form among the broken TVs and other rubbish. A scramble begins, initially attempting to simply stop the poor baby crying. Eventually we see the formation of a new family on the scrap heap.

No words are needed between Clare-Louise English and Jo Sargeant. They make a smooth and heart-warming double act as the father and daughter team respectably. Completely in sync as they stride through their daily routine. There is a cheeky sense of competition between them as they squabble over the food scraps but also a clear demonstration of the strength of love between the two of them. The pair work seamlessly together, with a fine-tuned sense of comic timing and audience response, occasional breaks of the fourth wall adding to the hilarity. Sargeant’s character sweetly plays with a teddy, dreaming of having a baby, but should be careful what she wishes for. English also plays the mother of the abandoned child, providing a tangible sense of the cold world that exists beyond the broken fence.

The design of the show was beautiful, thoughtful and detailed. From the climbable set, with nooks and crannies to appear from, to the costumes, which brought out the essence of the characters with aplomb, allowing the stark contrast between the mother and the tramps to stand out. The sound design was excellent, adding to the humour and the specific aesthetic of the show, I would have completely understood if the eurobeat music was found on records abandoned somewhere in the junkyard. The piece is designed to be deaf inclusive, which means the lighting has an extra role in this performance, to provide a visual guide for some of the sounds. The lighting design handles this brilliantly, with lighting effects representing some of the sound, flickering festoons for the baby crying, and a flashing blue light representing the prowling police.

There were a few points where the plot leaves a lot of questions about the mother unanswered. Why is she fleeing from the police whilst giving birth? Why does she stop being chased by the police? It’s all a bit too convenient for the plot. However, these are small annoyances in the grand scheme of the show, as it sweeps you up with a lovable brand of gross and touching humour.

This is a simultaneously grimy and charming piece of great physical comedy, that teaches you, it doesn’t matter how mucky your fingers are if you have a warm heart. That is inclusive for deaf audience members.

Reviews by M Johnson

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The Blurb

A fun, touching, highly visual piece inspired by the story of Moses. Using music, puppetry, comedy and no dialogue, accessible to deaf and hearing audiences in a shared experience. Two quirky characters, living on a scrapyard on society's fringes, have their lives turned upside down! The discovery of a tiny baby catches them by surprise. Where did it come from? And does it come with a manual?! Join these lovable vagrants in their strange, murky world as they grapple with their new routine. Hot Coals are back with their unique brand of cartoon for the stage.

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