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From Keaton to Mr Bean. the clown has been a symbol of the downtrodden and fragile. With Snowshow'. Slava Polunin aims to broaden the clowns range. Catriona Craig leaves her facepaint and plastic nose at home to meet the man behind the mask.

()urs could be the only European country where we still think of clowns as spooky old men with red plastic noses who cry when they are alone. The modern state ofclowning is quite different and Slava Polunin. who brings his acclaimed creation to Edinburgh. is its internationally renowned master- craftsman.

In his hands. clowning has become not so much a sideshow as a journey of artistic exploration and endless possibilities. "The world of the clown is limitless.’ assens l’olunin. You could have a clow n-lunatic. a clown-anarchist oreven a clow n-psycliotic.' At the heart of these yariations certain ideals are retained. "To be a clown yoti hayc to loye the unusual and the unespected



and in some ways remain a child for the whole of your life.‘

It is a sign of l’olunin‘s cultural eclecticism that he can cite both Samuel Beckett and Norman Wisdom as among his strongest influences. Additionally. an understanding of the masters of European theatre. from Stanislay ski to Attaud. plus

professional awe at the achieycniems of

(‘harlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel pttt him in a unique position

He has performed alone on street corners but also directed highly technical clown estrayaganzas for huge audiences. It is safe to say that this man has a good idea of what can be done with an audience on any scale.

As he talks about his work it seems that there is something almost archaic going on. He won‘t travel on aeroplanes. preferring to discoy er a


Snowshow: anarchy comes to the UK country as he Iltoyes across it at ground level. but at the same time his comic

\ ision is \cry contemporary.

"I believe the idea of clowning is anarchic.‘ l’olunin maintains. ‘lt opposes the official culture which is so often static. ('lowning can always be free.‘ This idealism is carried over into his Dct'forittances. .S‘nmrs/imr embodies an image of humanity that leaves audiences grinning from car to ear. Hardened city -dwel|ers haye found themselyes playing with giant balloons at the end of the show and now [Edinburgh audiences can do the same. This is your chance to be anarchic with the world's greatest clown.

I Snowshow (Fringe) Slay a l’olunin. Assembly Rooms (Venue 3). 226 2-128. *l/lll. l2/l3. l‘)/2(). 26/27. 29- 3| Aug. 4.45pm. l5- l7. 22-24 Aug. ll.l5pm. {infill/£0.50 (£9.5(l/L’85lll.


Hersterics - The Sketch Show

Girls in gangs have been on the rise this last year, or so The Girlie Show and Pyjama Party would have bemused insomniacs believe. However, the march ol the laddette has been strangely stilted according to Ali Jay, one third at temale comedy troupe llersterics. ‘It’s a pile of shite, isn’t it?’ Fair comment, and one at the reasons why Hersterics new sketch show takes the veritable rise out at the whole thing. ‘We’re only expressing what people already think,’ insists Ali, unsurprisingly




Hersterlcs: ‘writlng it was very giggly’

regarded as ‘the mouth’, or ‘the loud one’ of the team. The others are Suzanne Smith - ‘the quiet one' and Laura Shavin - ‘the brains.’

As one’s Jewish, one’s black and one’s lesbian (which is which would be telling) comic collaboration was inevitable, leading to the current

show. ‘Writing it was very giggly’, says Smith. Shavin expands, ‘We’d meet up, have too much to smoke, then write up what we had.’ And the end result? ‘lt’s lunny all the way through,’ insists Jay. ‘Something tor everyone,’ re-iterates Smith. Whatever, anyone with a penchant tor lasses scrapping and brownies shagging should be kept happy. The lifespan of the group largely depends on how they cope with the current experience.

Ali Jay sums it up. ‘You know those telly documentaries where they take all these disparate people, then put them in completely ditterent situations to see how they cope?’ she enquires. ‘This show’s a bit like that. So we’ll either come out of it better people or we’ll end up nervous wrecks.’ (Neil Cooper) llersterics The Sketch Show (Fringe) llersterics, Gilded Balloon Backstage 2 ( Venue 36) 226 2151, 9—31 Aug,'5.30prn, £6.50 (£5.50).



quick hits

I The league of Gentlemen Innovative sketch show alcnl Allow a bunch of north country lads to introduce you to Agony Aunt Bernie Robinson. RE. teacher Mr McCunn and Mabs and Edward whose local shop is a nightmare for strangers. Savage. saucy and shocking. See preview. The I.eugue (if'Uenllenien (Fringe). The l’leus'uiu‘e (I'enue 3.?) 556 6550. until 3/ Aug (no! I}. 26). 4.35pm. [6/[5/[350

( 1.5/1.4).

I Showstopper Audrey Hepburn makes her Fringe debut through the guise of Jackie Clune. who can lip-synch with the best of them. A tale ofglamour. love and The Sound 0/ Music which also stars Julie Andrews and Natalie Wood. Son of.

S/iun'smp/ier tl’ruige). Assembly Rooms (Venue .i’) 226 2-128. 9-3/ Aug (nu! I}. 27). .i/un. («S/[7 (17/16).

I The Virgin Mary Show Written. performed and presented by Bernadine (‘orrigan 'I'lie l’irgm Mary Slime tackles the autobiography of Our Lady in just an hour. A melange of biblical history with contemporary characterisation.

The Virgin Mury S/um' (Fringe). T/lt’ I’leustuu'e (Venue 33) 556 6550. until 3/ Aug (no! /5. 27). 3.30pm. [750/1650

( £6. 5 0/15 . 50).

I 1820 The true story of the calculated murder of men and women incited to rebellion by their ‘own' government led to the largely untold story of the insurrection in the west of Scotland in I820. Fifth Estate tell the tale through celtic inusic and dialogue. Literally a ceilidh with a story.

/«\’2() (I’ringe) Fill/i Iz's'IuIe. 'l‘lle I’unmus‘ Grouse House (Venue 34) 220 5606. 12—3] Aug (no! Mons) 5. 30pm. £6.50 ( £4. 50).


34 The List 9-15 Aug I996