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Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Margaret von Klemperer reviews Andrew Buckland’s piece of clowning and exploration performed at the Witness Hilton Arts Festival.

After working with Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas, Andrew Buckland, South Africa’s undisputed master of the physical theatre genre, came home and directed Richard Antrobus and Chris Fisher in this piece of clowning and exploration. As the title Stilted suggests, Antrobus spends most of the time on stilts – quite long ones at that. There are props that include a very tall bed, table and chair, three very short chairs, some fruit, a normal sized door, balloons and a trampoline.

The thought of a man on long stilts bouncing on a trampoline is alarming. Will the ends of the stilts go through the surface? Or get caught in the sides? It doesn’t happen, of course, and it makes for spectacular theatre.

While Antrobus is clowning around, Fisher is apparently rehearsing odd bits of Shakespeare, doing his breathing exercises and learning his lines, which include, suitably, “All the world’s a stage”. His part is to be correct and careful, while Antrobus improvises and clowns. Their differences are not only those of height.

It makes for an entertaining spectacle, though the sense of two diametrically opposed views of the world, the stage and life, tends to get lost at times. But if you are a Cirque du Soleil fan, you’ll love the clowning, the comedy, the stunts and the fun. - Margaret von Klemperer