Scratch 'n Fly

BATS Theatre, Wellington

12/02/2007 - 16/02/2007

NZ Fringe Festival 2007

Production Details

Meret Weiss with Kim Oetliker

Wing Productions

This duo will land in Wellington but probably not without trouble. After trying to cross the Cook Strait in an old fridge and flying over it in a ladder biplane, they have finally opted for the Interislander.

SCRATCH ‘N’ FLY is physical theatre with all the essentials for taking off with high soaring comedy and full of secrets for the whole family!

Performer Meret Weiss, who aspires to make success out of her failures, meets noise-collector Kim Oetliker who animates live acoustic scenery in their new performance SCRATCH ‘N’ FLY, premiering at BATS 12th to the 16th February as part of Fringe 07.

High security and misunderstandings are what inspired Meret Weiss and Kim Oetliker to collaborate in an adventurous journey that never moves from the spot.

“My suitcase had been left unattended in the foyer of the London national theatre. On my return 12 security people were surrounding it, ready to blow it open. Inside the suitcase was a clown security outfit and a plastic egg”. – Meret Weiss

There is no simple answer for such confusion but there is a way to translate it without using parody, into the naïve and childlike world of clown.

“The idea for a security clown was born when my four year-old niece was asked to give her Barbie magazine to airport security for x-ray. Not wanting to let her magazine go she asked the security man “why do I have to give it to you?” He answered in all seriousness, “You never know you could hide a knife or a razor blade in that.” -Meret Weiss

The story spills out of an old fridge, a well-deserved holiday lands flat on its face when trying to smuggle an egg through airport customs.

In the world of clowning there is no conflict so the solutions are often funny, tragic and absurd. This is the kind of world Kim Oetliker and Meret Weiss live in during their one-hour performance of transformations.

“I threw Kim an inflated lifejacket he deflated it, somehow that sound become the sea and suddenly I could hear seagulls, he just sits behind his rubbish pile and creates miraculous sound effects”. – Meret Weiss

‘She is nearing the big league of clowns. That’s where all the clowns clown around and dream of their next clowning-sorry crowning glory. Meret is influenced by classic old style of clowning combining it with her theatre background, using current topics she creates an inspirational narrative’.   – ‘WATCH THIS SPACE’. London. 2005

E Mail:

Theatre , Physical , Clown ,

55 mins

Wordless eloquence

Review by Michael Wray 22nd Feb 2007

Scratch ‘n’ Fly is an amazing demonstration in physical story telling. Who would have thought that a show lacking in words could produce such an eloquent tale?

Meret Weiss uses a simple list of diverse props. An old fridge, two halves of a large wooden stepladder and a suitcase represent the bulk of the inventory. Oh, and an egg. The egg is the little hero of the story and all it wants is a holiday.

Showing incredible agility, Weiss uses both halves of the ladder as stilts. She climbs up, down, in and out of a small fridge. At times, the things she does are such that you fear for her safety, particularly when you notice she is doing all of this in chunky high-heeled shoes. But this is not just a stunt show. There is a story being told and it has a clear wordless narrative.

At the side, sits Kim Oetliker. Described as the mad scientist of sound, it is easy to see, or rather hear, where this moniker comes from. Whatever aspect of the show Weiss is enacting, from the airport security checks to flight turbulence and beyond, Oetliker has a sound to accompany it. This is no ordinary sound scheme; he extracts sounds from the most unlikely of sources. The rolling of the hamster wheel was probably my favourite, but there are so many that it’s difficult to remember them all. He uses microphones of such sensitivity that the tiniest of sounds are projected as an audio backdrop for Weiss.

It’s an audio and visual delight – physical theatre at its most articulate.


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Review by Lynn Freeman 22nd Feb 2007

Scratch ‘n’ Fly at Bats is deeply rooted in the circus/clown tradition, with a central character whose childlike curiosity and innocence are sorely tested, but whose imagination and determination win through. 

Swiss born, Christchurch childhood, European clown training all combine in Meret Weiss, who climbs into, out of and on top of a fridge, scampers up ladders which she then turns into an airplane, and befriends an egg – before eating it.  But what I found more captivating than the on stage action were the deliciously weird sounds created by Kim Oetliker.  He’s obsessed, clearly, by sound, encouraging eerie noises from the most unlikely of objects.  The man’s a genius. 


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Pure delight

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 16th Feb 2007

A great example of a Fringe Festival play and one suitable for all ages is Wing Production’s Scratch ‘n’ Fly written and performed by Meret Wiess and Kim Oetliker currently playing early evening at BATS. 

With no dialogue to speak of Weiss and Oetliker create a piece of theatre that is bewitching and intriguing in its simplicity yet thoroughly theatrical.  Using her considerable experience in clowning and children’s theatre, Wiess, with the aid of a few props, a very versatile fridge and two ladders takes the audience, and a hard boiled egg, on a fascinating journey through many nonsensical adventures involving airports, aeroplanes, boats, a dessert island and various other locations.

The strength of the production is its unpredictability, and Weiss’s physical dexterity and wonderfully animated facial features.  She is ably assisted by technophobe Oetliker who sits on the side of the stage providing innumerable sound effects that makes this production a pure delight to watch. 


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Quality clowning: unique opportunity

Review by John Smythe 12th Feb 2007

Good clowning is tragi-comedy at its most poetic, in that every syllable of performed action counts. It is human experience distilled to its poignant, insightful and often absurd essence. It moves us to laughter because it moves us. Good clowning is also ingenious in its metaphysical conception and its physical execution.

Such a work is Wing Productions’ Scratch ‘n Fly, by Christchurch-based international performers Meret Weiss and Kim Oetliker. Weiss’s clown aspires to make successes out of her failures. Oetliker is a truly ingenious sound effects magician.

The tale they combine forces to tell involves arrival via refrigerator, hunger, time, an egg, travel, security, insecurity, turbulence, near disaster, a biplane, crash landing, broken dreams, surgical intervention, a medial miracle, a tropical island, a feed at last, guilt, return to the fridge … and a happy ending.

The said fridge, a desk, a costume stuffed with secreted props, a hanging clock face and a two-part step-ladder are ingeniously utilised by Weiss in multifarious ways, with her ladder work especially making us gasp in trepidation and wonder.

And who would have thought a balloon could creak, or a deflating life jacket could evoke a swelling sea? Oetliker’s sonic effects are extraordinarily creative, and the means by which he achieves them could be more clearly shared with the audience. We strain to see what he’s up to anyway, so making it more accessible would distract us less from the central performance.

Counterpointed with a range of cameo characters, it is the essential humanity of Weiss’s innocent abroad, fallible, gullible, deep feeling, in the moment yet moving on with optimism – and semi-lingual so globally understandable – that holds our interest for the hour, through this soundly structured visual narrative.

Usually we pay big bucks to see this level of talent in high production-value clown shows at the St James. Scratch ‘n Fly offers a unique opportunity to see quality clowning in the relative raw.


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