Aridhi Anderson is a theatremaker, performer and reviewer based in Melbourne. Check out her work at aridhianderson.com.
An interactive silent comedy masterpiece
Claire Ford and Nicky Wilkinson are The Kagools, a multi-award winning physical comedy duo from the UK. Their new show Cirque du Kagool (running at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival from 28 March - 7 April) is a silent comedy masterpiece.
Cirque du Kagool is a delightful spoof of circus skills and physical performance styles, an intensely interactive but family-friendly hour of joyful radiance wrapped in weatherproof hoodies. Ford and Wilkinson are skilled mimes and effective performers, supremely lovable and overflowing with energy as they playfully bumble around the space, entertaining their audience with consistently surprising antics. They're so good at being silly that it can be hard to tell whether they're actually also good at serious versions of what they're spoofing - there are hints throughout the show that they are at least somewhat good, which makes it even funnier when they act like they're not. In one of their more skilled-yet-appearing-unskilled segments of the show, when they synchronize their stage performances with recordings of themselves projected on a screen, they also highlight the incredible chemistry they share with each other as performers.
There's a lot of audience interaction in this show, and since it's a silent show, there's no verbal conversation about it. The Kagools are excellent physical communicators and convey some pretty complicated messages including participatory tasks with just their expressive faces and bodies, and sometimes with props. It doesn't matter where you're seated, expect to be called upon to be the circus ringmaster (you'll be given your costume and whip, and a script to read from), or to find yourself in a water pistol fight (yes, the guns are loaded!), or even find yourself riding off into the sunset (well, into the wing) with one of the Kagools. The night I attended, the audience participation highlights included when a little girl in the front row won an arm-wrestling match against Wilkinson, and when I found myself on stage taking Ford's place in a duel, and eventually being pelted with marshmallows - I managed to catch and eat one though, which was great fun.
There's a lot to love about this show and these performers. It's silly, it's full on, and at times it's confronting, but it's full of heart and the performers are immensely likeable. They like to tease boundaries from time to time, keep you in the edge of your seat, and even throw in a moment or two of dark humour, but it all comes together and leaves you giggling contentedly at what you've just experienced.