Thom Monckton of Finland’s Circo Aereo returns to Edinburgh with a hugely entertaining hour of silliness. The Artist is full of delightful visual gags, some wonderfully slapstick circus skills and all the hijinks you’d expect from the man behind the smash hit show, The Pianist.
Clowning at its finest from a master of the art.
Moncton, an award-winning New Zealander who has become known as one the top physical theatre and contemporary circus performers in the business, is onstage, painting an unseen masterwork on a large canvas as we enter and take our seats. The first joke of the show is perfect and sets the stage for the next hour of occasionally surreal humour. It’s a full 15minutes before the first thing that could be described as circus but there’s plenty of physical humour and moments where Moncton shows exquisite skill in drawing out a gag for just a little too long for it to realistically be funny and yet still has the audience in stitches. A particularly lovely sequence sees Moncton messing about with fruit, giving bananas life in a series of simple little skits.
The performance often feels like chaotic messing-around but there’s the clear purpose of a master clown at work. Every seemingly perilous situation the artist appears to fall into is carefully curated to deliver gasps, squeals and cheers.
His manipulation of props and his fearless clambering on the set only helps to convey the playful, sometimes melancholy and always mischievous character of the artist constantly distracted from his muse. It’s a wonder to behold and Moncton, had he been born a hundred years ago, would be as big a star as Chaplin, Keaton or Lloyd. Clowning at its finest from a master of the art.