Luke Rollason is a silly man who made me cry with laughter today. From the opening angler fish routine to the closing end-of-the-world sequence, I was grinning with joy throughout his Planet Earth.
A cracking clown, full of baffled energy and physical inventiveness.
A couple of years in the making, this is a "low-budget, one-man nature documentary" set all the way in the terrifying future of 2019, where animals and the BBC have gone extinct. If we want to see animals, then Rollason as a "plucky (and unpaid) intern" is all we have left, aided expertly by his David Attenborough impersonator on the mic and a rack of dubious-quality office equipment.
Over a chaotic hour this cheeky clown takes us on a makeshift journey through the animal kingdom. We meet Shakespearean jellyfish floating around in an imagined ocean (thanks to some beautiful mime work); horny sloths creeping around the forest; and - in the show I saw - black widow spiders confronting tree-dwelling tortoises. Sounds silly? It is, and that's the point. Rollason is a cracking clown, all wide-eyed and full of baffled energy and physical inventiveness.
The nature documentary is a great frame for clown comedy. Even the well-known Planet Earth theme tune makes an appearence on a classic Casio SA-8 mini keyboard. There are some serious notes in here too, with our clown gently highlighting the mass extinctions perpetrated by mankind on the animal kingdom, and the grim inevitability of catastrophic climate change.
It's often the attention to detail that elevates a great show to an amazing one, and that's what I'd love to have seen more of here. The makeshift, low-budget vibe of the desperate BBC intern was a little on the messy side, and at times it felt like Rollason was battling against his props instead of playing with them. And whilst the animal impressions were inventive, our central character of the BBC intern got a little lost in the chaos.
Rollason is a great performer, and in a few years he'll be an awesome one. Check out Luke Rollason's Planet Earth at the Monkey Barrel, every day until the 26th August.