What is love? In an immersive clown show with an interesting lyrical vein, Sean Kempton (of Cirque du Soleil) attempts to find out.

may be one of the Fringe’s stranger hidden gems

Kempton’s oddball sense of humour leads to a number of inventive sketches: he can be seen climbing out of the womb and inexpertly juggling with (thankfully imaginary) knives. He never rushes things, confidently leading us down the annals of his imagination with a daft grin and a quietly likeable stage presence. Occasionally it’s difficult to tell what’s going on with the miming, but these moments are few and far between.

What makes this different from your average clown show is its philosophical undercurrents – Kempton’s sketches are interspersed with and inspired by recorded interviews with people of various ages explaining what love means to them. Don’t expect to come away with the answer to one of life’s most perplexing questions, but Kempton’s handling of the topic is playful and lightly cerebral.

Aside from giving the sketches a more intellectual flavour, the theme of love also lent the show a certain lyricism. When Kempton turned to explore heartbreak, his awkward and painful-looking contortions to Mozart’s Lacrimosa were surprisingly affecting. The easy pace and well-judged musical accompaniment allowed Kempton to luxuriate in the images he created, and his movements could be both prettily sinuous and comically jagged.

Many shows in Edinburgh will be praised for their audience interaction, but Kempton takes this to the next level. Anyone in the front row can confidently expect to become an integral component of one of the routines, and, as well as the familiar sense of inclusiveness, there’s also a strange beauty to some of the participation. It’s hard not to smile when a selection of the audience are invited onstage to slow dance to James Vincent McMorrow’s Higher Love; as fitting a way as any to show that despite love being pretty tough, things generally turn out all right in the end.

Stuff is moving in a way that you can’t quite put your finger on, whilst maintaining the odd style of humour that makes a great clown show. This is an intimate performance which made me feel lucky to have found it, and may be one of the Fringe’s stranger hidden gems.

Reviews by Simon Fearn

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The Blurb

The first solo show from Cirque Du Soleil clown and acclaimed international performer Sean Kempton. 'Physically brilliant' (Herald Sun). 'I genuinely loved this show' ( Stuff is a highly energetic and entertaining physical piece that takes its audience on a journey through the fragility, hilarity and awkwardness that love can sometimes entail. It's a love story but not the one you've seen a million times before; this is another kind of love story. Using clown, mime and a little bit of dance, Stuff is playful, fun, sad and familiar.