Fortune Theatre Studio, Dunedin

15/03/2012 - 17/03/2012

Dunedin Fringe 2012

Production Details

Not to be missed.” John Smythe, Theatreview.

“…uncontrollably funny…” -HBL.FI culture and entertainment

“…Thom Monckton’s one-man show hit the laughter jackpot…” -Helsinki Sanomat

She is, in short, quite ridiculous.” Salient.  

The NZ/ Finlandphysical comedy company Kallo Collective bring to Dunedintwo highly entertaining and physically skilled solos – Moving Stationery by Thomas Monckton and Echolalia by Jen McArthur.

Moving Stationery is a wordless one-man physical comedy show combining dance, object manipulation and clown technique. The creation of Moving Stationery took place inFinland as part of a three-month artist’s residence. With very little human interaction during that time, and outside temperatures dropping to -28 degrees Celsius, the result is a particularly well rehearsed but slightly off-kilter show.

This comedy of errors revolves around Sigmund, the bewildered recipient of a new office job, who is completely out of his depth. Sigmund’s desperate attempts to defend himself against his own mistakes spiral out of control until he is fighting an epic war against a (deceptively) harmless office. The elevator, his lunch, and the office stationery seem set to destroy him.

Thom Monckton’s show “contains the history of clowning and perfect timing”. It is an easy and entertaining show to see, combining the very old and very new forms of clown – both rarely seen inNew Zealand.

“…blessed with limbs that could rotate in any direction and a body that appeared entirely boneless.”  Dartford Times,London

“His work is simply some of the funniest that has come out the school’s 10 years of operation.” – Godfrey Sim, CircoArts Director

Echolalia Tickled by the social “weirdness” of autistic children while working with them on a holiday programme, Jen McArthur created a character for the stage who doesn’t register social niceties. Echolalia uses the forms of clown, physical theatre and dance to present Echo – a young woman preparing for a much needed job interview. This challenge is intensified by the front door, behind which the pressure of social situations awaits. Premiered in July last year at BATS, McArthur has since reworked the script with the assistance of Jo Randerson. “(Her) work is an important vein of comic, poetic clown that needs to get stronger in NZ for our theatre industry to grow.”

Touching, surprising, playful, McArthur spellbinds the audience, in this highly recognisable portrayal of a person doing battle with their fears.

McArthur’s tender performance as Echo is both delightful and heart breaking.” Salient.

Don’t miss this opportunity to experience two tested works steeped in aNew Zealandsense of humour, from internationally experienced performers/ creators.

I shall not reveal the conclusion, but by all means my applause was rapturous.” Salient

Fortune Studio Theatre,
15-17 March, 6.30pm,
$20 Full/ $18 Concession  

1hr 30min

The funny, charming, mad logic of clowning

Review by Terry MacTavish 17th Mar 2012

Still reeling from the news that Dunedin must throw yet more appalling amounts of cash at our inept Rugby Union, I stagger into the Fortune to have my hurt healed by The Fickle Finger of Fate. Thank Heaven for the Arts, and Fringe Fest for bringing us these fabulous artists of physical comedy.

The two solo clown shows, Echolalia and Moving Stationery, are produced by the accomplished contemporary circus company, Kallo Collective. The founding members studied at the school of Jacques Lecoq, legendary physical theatre exponent who died in 1999. Lecoq’s legacy lives on in Paris, his school a place of pilgrimage for all who set no limits on the expressiveness of the human body.

The two performances complement each other well. Echolalia (means the tendency to repeat mechanically words just spoken) is created and performed by Jen McArthur, who credits five directors. She plays Echo, an autistic woman, who over the course of three days is preparing herself for three job interviews. Think Samuel Beckett, writing scenes for Miss Prism. 

Echo’s daily routines are of course incredibly important to her and meticulously followed; both touching and comical to watch. Demurely dressed in a cinnamon frock with white trimmings, she makes tea with precise but cutely dislocated movements, seeming to have little control over her body, but giving herself directions, “Wait!”

She can – just – control her tidy little world, but for all such naive innocents, the world outside is frightening. She enlists our help as she murmurs her “Practice makes perfect” mantra, worrying that she has not enough biscuits for us all, but interrogating and bossing the audience members she selects.

McArthur, with the best painted eyebrows ever, giving her a permanently alarmed look, is funny and charming throughout. The highlight for me, however, is her dancing, apparently off-balance but actually extremely well executed, culminating in a wild and hilarious climax as she rides a berserk vacuum cleaner to ‘The Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy’…

Moving Stationery is perfectly polished theatre, creator and performer Thom Monckton demonstrating quite outstanding skill. The man seems made of rubber; his timing is superb and his surely boneless body flows like an irresistible tsunami. I am reminded of the gorgeously gawky, elongated figures in the cartoons of Ronald Searle.

Monckton is nerdy Sigmund, coping heroically with his first day of promotion in a routine office job. No words are necessary: with a little music that body will tell the story. We first see him balancing boxes in a lift, doing the quaint things we do when we think we are alone, eventually discovering joyfully that his argyle sweater matches the lift wallpaper.  

Soon he is exploring his new office, and we are relishing the theme familiar in clowning of both the delight and threat of common things. We anticipate what will go wrong for the hapless Sigmund, but that does not detract from the fun of watching it unfold. Even the helium balloon with the smiley face is pregnant with possibilities, and Monckton makes the most of them all.

One absurdity leads to the next with a mad logic that transcends ordinary logic, whether Sigmund is battling envelopes that refuse to seal properly or wrestling with rolls of sticky tape. He too engages members of the audience as his allies. By now they are his slaves, laughing hysterically. Pure genius.

As I leave the theatre, surrounded by a very happy crowd of Dunedin Festival goers, I see a friend who also studied at Lecoq’s school in Paris. Will she feel the great tradition has been upheld? She is glowing. “Magnificent!” she says simply. Who needs rugby?!

Note:  See separate reviews for Wellington Fringe seasons of Echolalia and Moving Stationery.  


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