My Uncle's Shoes

A beautifully ragged caravan hung with various bits and bobs sits in a corner of the stage. A young clown in high pants and floppy hat (Alexandre Casali), sits on the ground eating a banana and throwing the skins around. He opens his fly and rummages around, pulling out another banana. Then, an older clown (Lucio Tranchesi) glides onstage on roller skates, waving to an adoring crowd that we can only hear, not see. So begins My Uncle’s Shoes, a clown performance by Companhia Do Meu Tio and part of the Brazilian Theatre Season at the New Town Theatre and EICC.

An enjoyable piece of theatre, with many lovely individual moments of physical exuberance.

My Uncle’s Shoes charts the relationship between an older clown and his young disciple. The disciple is taught the ways of clowning by his mentor, from how to tie an oversized shoe to walking on stilts and professionally performing a mirror mime sequence. Casali and Tranchesi are a classic clowning duo: Casali is bigger, rounder, cuddly and a little bit slow; Tranchesi is small, wiry and prone to fits of a violent temper when his disciple cannot keep up. As the relationship develops, there is a subtle testing and shifting of status, until the two become equals. Casali’s constant bumbling attempts to prove himself during this journey provide much of the comedy.

That said, this is a much subtler and gentler show than one might expect from something described as ‘clown.’ It is less about pratfalls and more about the relationship of teacher and student and how this changes over time. We see the daily rituals of these two: putting on make-up, taking off make-up, drumming up an audience, getting ready for a show, eating and relaxing afterwards and so on. My Uncle’s Shoes seems interested in the classic idea of the clown: a paradox of the funny fool who creates laughter and the tragic loner, unloved and abandoned by all. It eventually builds to a dark climax. Original music by Jarbas Bittencourt, when used, is beautiful and effective, making one wish for more.

The show moves fairly slowly and takes a long while to get into its narrative. The two clowns spend much of the time feeling like broad brushstrokes, rather than fully-formed characters, keeping them distant from the audience and detracting from the poignant ending. Overall, however, this is an enjoyable piece of theatre, with many lovely individual moments of physical exuberance. 

Reviews by Jenny Williams

theSpace @ Symposium Hall

Nightpiece Film Festival

★★
Royal Oak

Yeti

★★★
theSpace on the Mile

Inevitable

★★★★
Spotlites @ The Merchants' Hall

Case Number

★★
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

Flight of the Lawnchair Man

★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

A sensitive look at the training of a new clown. Travelling from town to town, an older clown teaches his art in a rigorous discipline. Comedy and drama without words, but with a lot of lyricism. The relationship of the characters is based on the clown art of the classics. My Uncle Shoes wants to show an aesthetic with humanity and depth to contemplate more aspects of the human being beyond the visible of a clown's show.

Most Popular See More

Life of Pi

From £19.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Wicked

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £36.00

More Info

Find Tickets