There are so many things to love about the Fear&Love troupe: their awesome energy, great ensemble connection, an extensive (read: revolting) array of talents and an infectious delight in their craft.
Freshly graduated from the VCA and it’s exciting to see a group of actors at the start of their career doing what they want to be doing. fear&love&clowns is their first show that takes some abused clowns, adds a little backstory and much silliness, and creates a fun and inspiring experience.
I love it when theatre sets itself a goal, articulates it and achieves it. The show’s flyer reads: “This dark, sweet and funny show takes theatre back to basics, engaging the audience and compelling them to participate and react. It contains some violence and ballet, and a message… But you can ignore it if you want.” That’s all. It gives us just enough information to suspect what we’re getting ourselves in for, then helps during the post-show debrief of, “Wow. I loved it. What just happened?” They show us the power of the basics as they purposely nudge, prod and drag us along. Yet barely anyone has to leave their seats!
Another basic they have already mastered is gaining and keep our attention. You could try resisting, but when everyone around you is playing along with the simple clowny games, why would you want to hold back? It’s just innocent fun, right?
The brilliant ensemble members of Fear&Love aren’t, I’m told, a clowning troupe. These are just some of the skills they’ve picked up at the VCA. They embrace the juvenility of the style, and thus they can get away with making children out of the audience. Their commitment to the humour, to themselves and to each other makes everything work.
The performers themselves are Alistair Frearson, Chelsea Zeller, Emil Freund, Tristan Barr and Michael Gosden. Each individual is hugely talented and gets plenty of time to shine, yet they also share the stage brilliantly. The live sound effects from sound designer Bart Welch are a really excellent touch that deepens our sense of being in and part of the performance. Jackson Trickett on lights also gives a flawless performance.
Looking at media from their Adelaide Fringe season, it looks like these guys are constantly refining their work. Hell, I’m thinking of going again this week just to see it with a different audience. If I feel really brave, I might even sit in the front row. But that’s unlikely.
For the coulrophobics out there, I wouldn’t recommend this show. But for everyone else – see it! Tonight.