NASDA Theatre, E Block, CPIT, Christchurch

13/02/2014 - 15/02/2014

Production Details

Premiering on Valentines Weekend 2014  

A spectacular romp in the the tradition of Vaudeville and Circus. 
Watch! As the legendary stage troupe ‘The Travelling Patullos’ push their skills & psyches’ to grand heights for your entertainment. 

Be awed by Contortion and Acrobatics.
Marvel at the mysteries of Mentalism and Magic.
Come on a ride as drama and song collide in this all out feast for the eyes.

FEB 13 – 14 – 15 @ 8pm 
at or Call 0508 iTICKET  
Circotica Circus Theatre Productions 

Cast & Creators:
David Ladderman - Professor Patullo
Mentalism, Rhetoric, Prop Juggling, Slapstick
Mim Syme - Minnie
Adagio, Hand-balance Poles, Contortion, Foot Archery
Danny Syme - Donnie
Hand-to-hand, Juggling Cube, Slapstick
Lizzie Tollemache - Ivana
Mentalism, Human Blockhead, Voice

Sound and Lighting- Brian Rick
Front of House- Robbie Lane

Vaudeville , Theatre , Circus ,

Tricks, treats and belly laughs

Review by Erin Harrington 14th Feb 2014

Christchurch has a reputation for quality local circus theatre, and while the earthquakes have served to stuff this up somewhat by derailing both the CircoArts circus school and The Loons Circus Theatre Company, The Vaudeville Affair works to restore the balance.

We are treated to an old fashioned medicine show by family circus troupe The Travelling Patullos: saucy Russian vamp Ivana, hard-done-by clown Donny, cheeky contortionist Mimi and the irascible and resentful Professor Patullo, who is desperate to flog off one of his patented Patullo panaceas. 

Between the four of them we are treated to a variety of vaudeville and circus acts: mentalism, contortionism, song and dance, object manipulation, comedy and some old-fashioned hucksterism, all delivered with flair and cheek, and all designed to encourage us to part with our money by purchasing some of the Professor’s ersatz sugar water. 

Danny and Mim Syme, as Donny and Mimi, are delightfully nuanced, subtle and witty performers. They achieve the considerable feat of making their acrobatics look, if not effortless, then at least easy and casual.

David Ladderman and Lizzie Tollemache, as the Professor and Ivana, draw from their backgrounds in improv, physical comedy and street performance to create strong and assured comic characters that drive forward the action in a bold and bawdy manner.

The tight sound and lighting – uncredited and operated by ‘Cecil’, who frequently cops abuse from the Professor – work to create a cohesive theatre package. 

While most of the action happens ‘on-stage’, we are sometimes privy – through a clever bit of stage trickery – to the medicine show’s backstage area. Here, Ivana’s hokey Russian accent gets cast aside and we see that the family is far more dysfunctional that their stage personas would let us believe. They are driven more by resentment and fear of debt rather than their famous family elixir, and soon these frustrations bubble to the top. 

This framing narrative, while a great conceit, could benefit from further development or at least a gentle dramaturgical nudge. The individual circus acts are wonderful and leave the audience cheering, laughing and (once) cringing, but in places the execution of the overarching narrative is a little loose and the division – and then dissolution of this division – between the characters’ onstage and backstage personas is not as sharp as it could be.

These two issues impact upon the overall effectiveness of the piece’s climax, such that the story’s resolution feels a touch hasty and not quite as satisfying as it might be. 

This doesn’t stop The Vaudeville Affair from being an excellent night of tricks, treats and belly laughs, and a welcome assurance that the carnival hasn’t left Christchurch.


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