Slapstick is a joyous piece of daftness that should be on everybody’s Christmas ‘to see’ list. Five prodigiously talented Dutch musicians (Werelband) fill the stage with madcap sketches invoking a number of stage and screen traditions – but with just enough quirkiness to make it all feel entirely fresh.
The pre-set establishes the mood. As people arrive, one of the performers clambers among the seats, painting moustaches on surprised audience members; another limbers up with some onstage press-ups, a self-playing piano behind him; a third clumsily ‘cleans’ a wooden replica gun which ‘goes off’, causing a large stuffed swan to fall from the roof. The message is clear – anything can happen here (and it does).
We are presented with a range of delightfully absurd routines – from a ‘boxing match’ where the contestants exchange Irish jigs rather than punches, to (my favourite) a barbershop quintet performing ‘Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head” in po-faced German. There is, predictably, a great deal of physical comedy in the tradition of Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin and the Marx Brothers – there are even echoes of Monty Python. But the appeal of Slapstick goes much wider than this and its title fails to do justice to the ingenuity, originality and astonishing musicianship which underpins every scene.
Slapstick is silly, clever, chaotic and slick. But most of all, it is great fun. Indeed, the only thing that would be more fun than watching Slapstick would probably be performing in it!
Slapstick is on until December 22nd. https://homemcr.org/production/slapstick/
Photos by Jaap Reedijk