'pratfall' refers to the slapstick action, common in clowning, of falling and
landing on the buttocks. Pratfall doesn't so much as fall flat on its arse as
on its face. Glasgow-based Threadbare Jugglers may tout themselves as
performers dedicated to 'creating new exciting performances' which blend
'physical theatre and circus skills with contemporary theatre styles and
The succession of cringe-worthy gags that ensues almost brings vomit to my mouth.
Andrew Barrett and Lee Partridge don't seem to have grasped the truism that if comedy isn't funny, it ceases to be comedy. The same is true of entertainment generally, and Barrett and Partridge fail to entertain with impressive consistency.
Set in a scarcely believable dystopia in which the government has declared clowning illegal, Pratfall follows the prognostications and procrastinations of Balderdash (Partridge) and Piffle (Barrett) as they despair, deliberate and dilly-dally in the face of the new law. Amid a stage more untidy than most teenagers’ bedrooms, the pair select disguises in order to hit the street incognito, their red noses negating any chance of these proving efficacious. Barrett and Partidge have so many props that they can't even find them amid all the unartistically arranged clutter that litters their playing space. Even when they do, the succession of cringe-worthy gags that ensues almost brings vomit to my mouth. Some of these one-liners might have come off if they'd been left at the level of physical comedy but, true to form, Barrett and Partridge deliver their punchlines like nails in the coffin of comic effect. In fact, the jokes are so bad that, at least during the performance I witnessed, the clowns failed to raise so much as a titter from their audience.
Perhaps Barrett and Partridge's brand of obsolescent slapstick (commedia dell'arte it is not) would have come off in a more intimate environment; here it withered before a near-empty theatre, but I suspect that even in more auspicious surroundings, this production would have fallen flat.