Pig Circus

Verity Kim

at 08:46 on 15th Aug 2018

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There’s always a sense of wariness when I attend comedy shows that explicitly comment upon the current political climate, worrying about exactly how uncomfortable this one will make me feel. Hitchhiker Collective’s 'Pig Circus' capitalizes on this tension. The show opens upon four clown-faced actors, with trembling smiles, staring down the audience for a disturbingly long time. These figures then take on the appearances of prominent political figures Liam Fox, David Davis, Boris Johnson, and Theresa May, and in a talkshow format it reenacts the ‘nation’s favourite topic’: Brexit.

After its simple opening, the show quickly transitions into a fast-paced, frenetic energy. The actors, with their clown makeup, dressed-up in suits and sporting garishly bright British flag ties, dash across the stage barefoot, and the exaggerated movements of the show immediately draw me in. The show balances well between absurdist comedy and painful realism, with the entirety of its dialogue being taken from real comments of the characters’ real life counterparts. 'Pig Circus' highlights with nuance the nonsensical nature of the political events and rhetoric surrounding Brexit.

The actors’ physical comedy is the true star of show, paired with the skillful use of props and music. Even without much dialogue, they were able to hold my focus for the entirety of the play, and their impressions of British politicians were eerily accurate. The music and props added to this effect, and though the show used a variety of props, each piece was carefully incorporated into it's narrative. From the yellow balloons to the gigantic recreation of the EU stars, each outlandish prop served a specific purpose, and not once did I feel like the show was overpowered by these objects. The show also used music to its full effect, and the ironic rendition of Heaven Is a Place on Earth made audience members burst into laughter.

One thing that could have been improved was the comedic timing, which sometimes missed its mark. Though the show reenacted funny situations that allowed for some good laughs, the smaller jokes included in the dialogue were not played out to their full potential.

Nonetheless, 'Pig Circus' is a show that balances the difficult line between absurdist comedy and political commentary without managing to be preachy or pointless, and amongst the torrent of political comedies at the Fringe, it is definitely a standout.

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Louis Harnett O'Meara

at 14:52 on 16th Aug 2018

0agrees

1disagrees

Let me preface this by saying that my political views are liberal and I am anti-Brexit. I doubt I am in the minority at the Fringe. Now let me also say that if my opening statement is a little heavy-handed I can only excuse it by how incredibly heavy-handed Hitchhiker Collective’s ‘Pig Circus’ was, from start to finish.

‘Pig Circus’ used clown theatre to perform a series of verbatim political speeches from the Brexiteers and right-wing politicians governing the UK. I was genuinely looking forward to a show that I expected to be incisive and witty, poking fun at an establishment that is already ripe for parody. Unfortunately, the performance lacked imagination or nuance in the way it handled its material.

From the beginning, long pauses, missed cues and delayed responses betrayed a poorly rehearsed script, while the script itself followed no clear narrative from speech to speech. There was an attempt to loosely tie them together by framing the performance as Question Time – a simple solution that somehow proved entirely unconvincing. Instead, the speeches were given no context whatsoever, relying on assumed knowledge rather than going into the difficulty of actually explaining anything to the audience.

This was the main problem with ‘Pig Circus’. It didn’t really seem to want to make a point beside the obvious one: Brexit was a bad idea. Rather than exploring the complex and fractious politics of Brexit, and working toward a pro-Europe point of view by intelligently using politicians’ own words against them, the show was a farcical attempt at a farce. “Boris Johnson as a clown,” you can imagine them shouting, “a stroke of comic genius!” The performance’s handling was clumsy, and its opinion was shoved down your throat before you’d even had time to say “Good one.”

All these faults would be forgiven if 'Pig Circus' actually made the audience laugh. And, to the credit of Hitchhiker Collective, it was funny when the Brexiteers and Theresa May started rubbing blue British passports over their bodies in ecstasy to ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth’. Sam Lockwood also did a good job of maintaining a bit of wit and energy as David Davis. But besides that, Sonia Thakurdesai’s impression of Bo Jo – a particularly easy caricature – was off the mark; most of the jokes didn’t earn a chuckle; and the scene with Jacob Rees-Mogg having gay sex with David Davis was juvenile. The best advice I can give to Hitchhiker Collective? Work on it.

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