Tatterdemalion (FRINGEWORLD 2015)

Guest review by Chantelle Mitchell

FRINGEWORLD’s Deluxe venue provided the ideal location for Tatterdemalion, a charmingly disheveled mélange of mime, magic, puppetry and spooky theatrical departures. Sole performer, Henry Maynard of Flabbergast Theatre, emerged as a bleary eyed, Rip Van Winkle-esque figure, and charmingly clowned about while making use of the intimate space which placed most audience members within reach of his playful grasp.

As his travelling case emptied, the audience became participants, holding an assortment of props for later use (a boxing glove, a one-legged doll, a sack of rice), tricked into marriage proposals, or embarking on surprise piggyback rides. Maynard, as a tattered and delightful clown, careered about on stage, through a series of silly, unconnected vignettes. Parts of Tatterdemalion were riotously funny, although explorations of futility sometimes lead members of the front row to mutter amongst themselves, or verbally provide solutions. Yet this existential refrain, while perhaps drawn out, led to a subtle and unexpected crescendo twice during the hour-long performance.

In these departures from lighthearted physical comedy, the lights were dimmed and music, caught between nostalgic fugues and low-fi ambient sounds, permeated the small venue. It was here that the heart of the work was briefly exposed. It was a clever and startlingly beautiful act of puppetry with a white shirt that left the audience speechless, with its sad, slow magic. A later departure had the potential to become a frightfest, but Maynard cleverly steered it into sweet territory, through his deft handing of a skull-faced puppet. In amongst the silliness of Tatterdemalion, these meditations on loneliness and death shone.

Although frayed around the edges, Tatterdemalion unfurled as an endearing, existential gem, an enchanting mixture of playful humor and startlingly beautiful dreamscapes.

Tatterdemalion was presented by Flabbergast Theatre and played at the Pleasure Garden’s Deluxe Theatre as part of FRINGEWORLD from 2nd – 8th February.

Photo: Flabbergast Theatre