The London Clown Festival is in full swing. Breaking down barriers and misconceptions about clowning one red nose at a time, the diverse selection of shows at this festival has been astounding. The Metropolist returned one last time to The Omnitorium to see The Story of the Nervous Man by Neil Frost.
This simple tale acts solely as a vehicle for Frost to do his thing. The story goes: boy is sad, boy meets girl, boy isn’t successful, boy does a montage to get up the courage, boy gets girl. But it isn’t the story that compels us; it’s the method in which it’s told.
The Nervous Man cannot speak. His world is silent so it is down to the audience to create all the soundscapes of his world; whether it be the shower in the morning, ‘shhhhhhhh’, the barriers at the station ‘beep’ or the sound of him eating (we gleefully let loose a round of ‘Nom Nom Nom’ at this). The audience are required to flesh out this story, so in many ways, the quality of the show is also down to us, a clever conceit that invests us in the show to great effect.
Frost is a competent and compelling performer who holds our attention. He works well with the audience, ingratiating himself with a series of tasks for us to complete, and rewarding those who are successful with sweets. He slowly gets us used to our new job as sound effect specialists and goes about telling his story in small sections. It only takes the audience a couple tries before we are masters of the art. We are creating sounds and atmospheres that rival most major films (ok, maybe not, but we think so and that is half of the charm).
As the show progresses through the ‘Nervous Man’s’ days, we see him meet the love of his life, played by a willing audience member, and following her perfume to a dance class where he is confronted by a rival for her affections. This is where the true clown in Frost becomes apparent. He morphs back and forth between smooth Lothario and our ‘Nervous’ hero with just the use of body language and the swapping of his glasses. It isn’t perfect. In moments it is less than smooth, but it is fun and above all, it is really watchable. We have become friends with Frost, and not just because of the sweeties. We have become a part of the show so when his character fails in his endeavours, we feel like we have to as we have been an integral part of the effort too.
Culminating with a beautiful wedding scene complete with audience members as the priest, best man, bride and father of the bride, we are treated to an uplifting and energy fuelled finale! .
The London Clown Festival is at The Omnitorium, Manor House until the 19th June.
For more information visit: www.londonclownfest.co.uk