(4 / 5)
The Flop produced by Cardiff’s Hijinx theatre company in association with Brighton’s Spymonkey arrived in Brecon fresh from a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
The six-strong cast is equally split between able-bodied actors and those with learning difficulties. This i s a feature of earlier Hijinx productions and on the basis of the seamless integration on show in The Flop, works brilliantly.
At the heart of this short play, is the physical theatre of Jacques Lecoq. This great French mimic and teacher, believed that performers should work in such a way that brings out the best in their talents rather than be directed to work to a standard form. The end result should be one where the actors are liberated from realism and to provide a truly imaginative and creative forcefulness to their performance.
Spymonkey are a leading physical theatre company with an international reputation, having collaborated with household names such as Cirque du Soleil with their comedy routines in Zumanity – Another Side of Cirque du Soleil which they presented in Los Vegas. Their style of madcap buffoonery is clearly apparent in this production.
The show is a dream for the student of theatre. It is fun to spot the many theatrical styles on display. Besides physical theatre, you have The Theatre of the Absurd, (check out the surreal giant hedgehog in the final scene), The Theatre of Cruetly, Commedia dell’arte, farce, pantomime and musicals. All packed into seventy minutes of High Jinx. Hijinx’s ability to break constantly break down “the fourth wall” and the introduction of audience participation that results from it, works a treat.
The story revolves around the mad trials by impotence that existed in Pre-Revolutionary France. Unable to provide an heir, the Marquis de Langey, (Iain Gibbons) is subjected to the ridicule of public exposure when having to prove his ability to achieve sexual potency. brought about by his wife’s (Jess Mabel Jones) Machiavellian aunt, (Hannah McPake). The latter also doubling up as the Judge in the subsequent trial.
It would be wrong to select any individual members of the cast for praise, as they are uniformly excellent in their roles. Ben Pettitt-Wade’s direction keeps the show’s relentless comedy running at a breathtaking pace. At 70 minutes duration, it is just about right, for a lengthier production may prove to be a little wearing on the audience.
The Flop continues it run in England and Wales through to mid-October. Full details can be found at