Absurdist and Dark, Theatre for the often overlooked with Double Double Act
After the warmest week, London’s had in a while, my partner, big brolly, and I headed out into the pouring rain towards the Unicorn Theatre. Situated just a short walk from London Bridge, the eeriness still hanging in the air, I was more than happy to enter the venue - colourful, modern and full of children’s laughter.
The show is ‘Double Double Act’. It's created by Tim Cowbury, Jessica Latowicki, and Christopher Brett Bailey (the pair are also performers in the show). Unicorn Theatre is the UK’s leading professional theatre for young audiences. It is a venue that is dedicated to inspiring and exciting children of all ages, perspectives, and abilities to create a wish to explore the world, in their own way, through the magic of theatre.
The performance is described as ‘a lively and playfully subversive interrogation of the roles and expectations children and adults have of each other, and what makes a good joke’. It features both children and adults and the creative process included ideas from the little ones as well, after all, children really do have a great sense of humour no matter what the situation is. There is a promise of ‘ingenious wordplay, sharp delivery and lots of green slime’. No matter what age you are, you will be able to see through the eyes of others.
In a world where theatre is often centred around adults, with all its seriousness and drama, Made In China, the company that produced the show, gives its audience ‘theatre that playfully explores the paradoxes of modern identity, crossing the borders between playwriting and performance art’.
Made In China was found in 2009 by Tim Cowbury and Jessica Latowicki, and Christopher Brett Bailey is one of their main collaborators. The company focuses on silliness but strives to include the big issues that we are currently living with and experiencing in today’s world.
a roller coaster of absurdist comedy
Through dark humour, deadpan dialogue and striking physicality, performances centre around putting relatable stories into the hands and voices of so-called vulnerable and sometimes unreliable narrators. They invite their audiences to relax and wind down at all their performances, while also exciting them by posing questions that may cause difficulty, discomfort, and humour in equal measure.
Double Double Act brings together two double acts in order for them to vie for the attention of the audience in a most endearing way.
Once you enter the amphitheatre-like auditorium, after climbing what may feel like a Mount Everest of stairs, the buzz and warm atmosphere is immediate. Caitlin Finlay and Caspian Tarafdar (The children perform as pairs on alternate performances, Seb Booth and Nayana Crowe are the other two little geniuses that you may catch on another night), both at the tender age of 7, enter the performing space and share a phone conversation between themselves while getting to know the audience.
They start by singling out audience members, pondering who they are, where they come from, and what their favourite food might be: “It’s probably pizza, with extra cheese, cut up into little squares.” After warming up the audience, we are introduced to the other double act played by Jessica Latowicki and Christopher Brett Bailey. They start to deliver their act by introducing the show and politely asking everyone to turn off their mobiles but it is only then that the little ones appear and the audience are introduced to the main conceit of the show: when the two acts realise that the venue has booked two double acts for the same time to give the same performance.
The battle of the Double Acts begins, and the audience is thrown onto a roller coaster of absurdist comedy.
The double-double-acts go through a series of challenges and misadventures in order to 'prove' the validity of their performances and ultimately let the audience decide who the better double-act really is. So, prepare to witness potion making, a wild goose chase, fart jokes, slapstick comedy, and (as promised) a whole lot of green slime.
The show brings comedy to the audience in its purest form, taking you back to basics with the simplicity of a child-like comedy that appeals across ages and cultures. There will be audience participation and a lot of noise, from youngsters and adults alike, making this a loud, joyous, and anarchic performance that brings out everyone's inner child.
Taking place so close to London Bridge, Double Double Acts brings to the stage sixty minutes of pure delight that is unmissable. There are strong performances from all four members of the cast, who are able to tackle larger and more difficult issues with a bold, anarchic, and absurdist style that manages to fight back the darkness in the purest way possible, through the sheer joy of laughter.
Double Double Act by Made In China is suitable for all ages and will be showing at The Unicorn Theatre until Sunday 9th July.
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