By Colin Flaherty
Slapstick bits about performing a double act solo have been seen before in short spots but Jon Walpole has taken the concept to its logical conclusion, an hour length show where one performer is in absentia. What results is a hilarious and clever performance with plenty of pathos thrown in.
He raises the stakes and shows all the obvious pitfalls and pratfalls of performing one man down early. His Aunty Donna styled opening song clubs us over the head that this is a double act. He shows the pregnant pauses for lines that are never returned, the absent physical contact and the risk of injury when the other person is not there to catch you.
The remainder of the show gradually reveals facts about Jon and Tim’s relationship as he nervously waits for the tardy appearance of his partner. To keep things on the road, urged on by words of encouragement from his tech James and an audience happy to play along with the conceit, Jon performs amusing sketches using props and assistance from members of the audience. Crowd work and audience participation play a huge part in this show but none of it is embarrassing or complicated.
With a background in clowning, Jon is a wonderfully physical performer and has constructed a world that shows this off. He manipulates his imaginative props, mimes his way through sketches and interacts with weird and wonderful characters that inhabit this strange theatrical world. The whole room becomes a playground and everyone is a part of the experience.
A shout-out must go to the tech James who holds this show together audibly. Hilarious reactive sound effects play a large part in the performance and Jon reacts to many sound cues and recorded dialogue that largely go off without a hitch. This is an audio visual tour de farce.
One Man Performing A Two-Man Show is on at The Motley Bauhaus until April 23