‘Pss’ is one of those sounds that extends beyond itself. It’s so brief at times it hardly seems a sound at all, a motion, not a noise but an extension of the lips, an exciting new extrapolation of the body. Baccalà Clowns prove in this bizarre but mesmerising performance that sometimes all you need is a noise as brief as a ‘Pss’ to get someone’s attention, then you can show them what you really want to say.
They hold the audience’s rapt attention throughout; every action becomes a vibrant expression.
As past winners of the Cirque du Soleil, you’d expect something fairly spectacular to explode onto the stage, so you might be quite surprised when greeted by the eager eyes of a mere two clowns, taking tentative steps into the spotlight. But Pss Pss sticks to the quiet subtlety of its title, these two performers require little in order to entertain, their limbs, their faces, their expressions are where their skill and art truly lie. Their bodies are finely tuned instruments, played openly for your pleasure.
They’re bewitching from the moment they walk on stage, even the simplest of actions become enthralling. From Camilla Pessi’s initial happy gazing at an apple, to Simone Fassari’s inquisitive scanning of the crowd for volunteers, it all comes down to the right look, the right time, a minute flinch or twitch of a cheek, an eyebrow, a little finger and the audience are in hysterics.
Fassari and Pessi are two of the most confident and captivating performers you are likely to encounter, the parts they play appear as mere extensions of self, hardly characters at all; their eyebrows alone excite. They feel like they’ve compressed an entire tradition of clowning into a single performance, Fassari practically Chaplin-esque, while Pessi seems like a creation from a Tim Burton film.
They’re hyperbolic, yes, clowning to a degree cannot help but engage enthusiastically with the exaggerated, and yet this exaggeration of movements comes to the fore with incredible precision and immense intricacy. These clowns are strong apart, but they are stronger together, the relationship built up between the two characters climaxes in several sequences of comical hugs, the affectionate bonds a place of connection and trust through which they are able to play off each other’s bodies with vibrant intensity. Small scuffles are transferred to the perilous heights of a trapeze, a ladder cunningly manipulated under their touch to become something other than anyone could have originally intended. They hold the audience’s rapt attention throughout; every action becomes a vibrant expression.
In the end it’s the incredible versatility of both performers that holds this show together. Motifs of movement pepper the piece and become hysterical points of return as the jokes build on each other in an artfully layered performance. Inventive and exciting, this couple of clowns will have you laughing long after you leave the theatre.