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7 October, Spiegeltent
Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival 2017

This is one of those ‘slow burner’ shows. It creeps up on you, and while at the halfway mark I was wondering am I not in the right mood for this? by the end I was converted.

Simone Fassari (him) and Camilla Pessi (her) are contemporary clowns who met at theatre college in Switzerland, and some years ago devised this show.

They have a lovely, gentle presence on stage; she all wide-eyed and physically gangly, he the sidekick, the perfect foil.  And of course, they switch roles constantly.

It’s mime … so facial expressions and geeky physicality are the craft in a show which has been performed, to huge acclaim, more than 600 times around the world.

As with all really accomplished artists, they make it all look too easy.  She balancing on one hand, on his head. Or being twirled in and around his body. The audience member lured into being her climbing companion, and the tumbling trapeze routine high above the audience below. Funny, almost scary (but they’re so good you know they’re not really going to fall), but full of bravado and panache.

For me there was perhaps a little too much of the wide-eyed look. And while I recognise that deliberately slowing down some sections is a theatrical device which makes other parts of the show appear much quicker, there were times when I wished they would just ‘get on with it!’

None of this is to take away from a very different kind of theatre experience; a gentle, affectionate embrace from two supremely gifted individuals to a full house Hawke’s Bay Festival audience on a wet night in a circus tent in Havelock North. A quiet but heartfelt bravo!

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