How A Man Crumbled Review

Edinburgh Guide / Irene Brown

**** – 4/5 stars

Summerhall’s Demonstration Room, an old Dick Vet lecture theatre, is the suitably strange setting for Clout Theatre’s latest production, How a Man Crumbled. Its peeling walls looked like their dust had landed on the three actors’ faces as they stood frozen in nervously menacing poses against the wall like folk stuck in an old funfair rotor.

The audience crams itself into the stiff wooden seats ready to give full attention to these characters whose faces are already set in exaggerated comic expressions that intrigue.

This latest piece from Clout, that was selected to perform at Physical Fest in Liverpool and has been selected for Folkwang Physical Theatre Festival in Germany, takes the audience in to the bizarre world of Russian surrealist and absurdist writer Daniil Kharms.

It is a bouffonesque recounting of the story of The Old Woman where the three characters use their considerable clowning skills along with dialogue projected on the wall and phenomenal sound effects as they shape their way through a series of outrageous scenarios.

Under Mine Çerçi’s brilliant direction, Sacha Plaige, George Ramsay and Jennifer Swingler perform contortions, mould themselves into grotesque tableaux and conduct violence on each other with vegetable weapons.

They are hideously dressed in shabby vestments, but conduct themselves with a sublime craziness that exposes their craft of performing consummate clowning for adults. The piece can feel like being part of a weird silent movie with the actors startling mime skills at the fore. The Jack-in-the-Box corpse is executed with brilliant co-ordination and great comic skill.

This is a heroic physical and professional performance full of intensity, absurdity and discordant daftness that deals with sex, death, philosophy and religion in an high quality absurdist style but it is not for the faint hearted and I would say that an age suitability should be older than the recommended age of 12 +, but maybe that’s a generation thing.

Clout Theatre is an international award winning physical theatre company that has performed in venues such as the Louvre Museum in Paris and the Istanbul Municipal Theatre. Its members, all of whom trained at École Jacques Lecoq in Paris, are from Russia, France, Turkey and Scotland. Director Mine Çerçi has directed and performed at prestigious Paris venues and events such as Théatre Bouffes du Nord and the Paris Beckett Festival.

Show times

Daily til 26 August (not 18, 19), 3.30pm

Suitable for 12+


Today 2 for 1, £10

£10 (£8)