Clowning around onstage is definitely an art form. When it goes wrong the audience can be left unsatisfied and void of all laughter, but when it goes right it can be magical. Tatterdemalion is a performance that manages to mix the right blend of buffoonery, tomfoolery and audience participation to present a satisfying a show.
Solo performer Henry Maynard knows how to grab an audience’s attention without saying a word. He is a master of mime and physical theatre. Throughout the performance he does not utter a word and uses a series of props from a large suitcase (including an umbrella, shirt, shoes etc) to stage a romantic wedding, a tragic train ride and a touching funeral. As well as using objects, the performer likes to use the audience as a prop. There is no boundary between the stage and the crowd as Maynard engages unwilling participants to play out the actions of the show.
Over halfway through Tatterdemalion the stage lights finally darken and a physical theatre and puppetry performance ensues. Dramatic music (devised by Sound Designer Daniel Trachtenberg) plays over the speakers and the mood in the room changes. Without giving away any spoilers, this element of the production is the most visual and attention grabbing, but the audience had to endure an awful lot of clowning around to get there. Somewhat disappointingly the house lights rise and we are back to comedy mime. Tatterdemalion would have been a stronger performance if the puppetry section was longer and helped drive the story forward. There are however enough laughs throughout the show to make Tatterdemalion a mime performance with a lot to say.