Physical comedy duo Nicky Wilkinson and Claire Ford, trading under the name of the outfits they wear, stormed last year’s Fringe with their frantic slapstick routines that channelled the best of 80s kids TV for audiences in a new century. Following a successful turn in Australia, they’re back with this new hour, which further establishes their reputation as classic comedy performers, even if the thrill of the new has faded a little.
The silent duo command the room with gestures and facial expressions alone. They have found formulae that really work to hook you in – audience flirtation, silly dancing, petty squabbling, lots of water splashing about. The showstopping bits are the multimedia segments, where they duck behind a video screen and start playing with the boundaries between video and real life. Props and body parts that can be seen on the screen miraculously pop out of the side for comic effect. It’s much the same format as last year. They’ve created new material within that framework rather than mess with a winning formula. They do it so well, you can’t blame them.
All the anarchy is in fact impeccably well-drilled. It feels more controlled than last year, which in a show this helter-skelter maybe takes a little of the edge out of it. However, tight as they normally are, on this particular Saturday afternoon they’re not quite as bang on with the multi-media segments, occasionally slipping out of synch.
They save the best moments of this show til last when it looks, horrifically, like we might have Kagool death on our hands. The pair that do slapstick so well show they can milk the pathos too. Then there’s an all too short neon light finale which looks flash, but turns out not to lead anywhere in particular.
Tutti might not break new ground, but it’s still a belting hour of physical humour. It’s easy to see the duo being a Fringe fixture for years to come.