Review: Louder Is Not Always Clearer, Mr and Mrs Clark, Jonny cotsen, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, By Hannah Goslin

 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Let me tell you, if you like boundary breaking, the plain and simple truth and interesting physicality to name but a few, then you need Mr and Mrs Clark in your life.

A long-time fan, I have always admired their work, their concepts and how they bring these to the stage. They are never similar, never the same but always ground breaking and perfectly formed.

Louder Is Not Always Clearer draws upon the performance artist Jonny Cotsen and his life as a deaf person. The show Is autobiographical to an extent, but also makes you really see yourself. Using a range of media, physical theatre techniques, theatrical techniques and fine art, Cotsen brings us into his world, his difficulties but poses it in a way to create slight difficulty for us. Almost acting as if we are those who may not be as open minded and accommodating, we feel similar to how Cotsen has felt during his life – wanting to participate but being discriminated for something he cannot control.

An example of this is with use of sign language. I can imagine not every performance goes this way, depending on who is in the audience, but he begins a conversation with someone who can sign, finding them by openly asking through this communication who can indeed sign. And to this day, I still have no idea the conversation. This made me feel isolated, confused and this was very clever. As to an extent, this is what he himself has experienced on the other end.

He, with use of props, physicality and vocalisation makes fun of those who are ignorant. Those who are surprised by how he can drive a car, have children, those who almost shout at him to ‘hear’ them, normal things that everyone can do – and through these, they are comical, sometimes heart warming, sometimes astonishing at the ignorance and completely understandable.

Cotsen commands the stage. Unlike some of Mr and Mrs Clark’s pieces which are abundant with physical theatre, there are times of peace, of silence, of contemplation, and even at these points you cannot take your eyes off Cotsen – he is simply a fantastic performer.

Louder Not Always Clearer is honest, it has no fear, it has no bullsh*t. It is unashamed, unapologetic and something fully needed in the forefront of society. Feel seen, feel informed but ultimately, come away feeling Cotsen’s emotions and with anger at those who are ignorant.

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