Crazy In Love | A Conspiracy of Clowns (South Africa)

Amsterdam Fringe 2014 | MC Theatre, Amsterdam

It begins with Leon (‘a’leon,) a seeming roaming vagabond that charms his way into women’s beds. Played by multiple-Edinburgh Fringe Winner Rob Murray, Leon’s opening monologue reveals a crafty, carefree personality with absolutely no commitments until he discovers true love with a woman whom he plans to settle and get married. However, she abandons him at the alter with their newborn child, and from then on he returns to the road to seek her, obsessively travelling from place to place with his daughter and a trolley for a home, marking each unsuccessful town as a tattoo on his body. Fast forward 15 years and the daughter, Ginny, (Liezl de Kock) is developing notions of independence and is increasingly concerned their objective is proving detrimental to their lives. The comic, pacey dialogue is interspersed with dark and often touching moments but avoids sentimentality, leading the way nicely through this show while a mix of theatrical forms such as puppetry and choreographed set pieces contribute like skits to shake up the exposition.

Immediately one finds that the South African accent is both endearing and charming, and Murray is exceptional at delivery. The text serves both performers well easing between quick-fire comedy and creeping tension which they handle expertly with an acuteness of dramatic timing. The days seem to belong to him, which repeatedly descend into chaos by his booze-fuelled brawling, a fantastic speech whereby he lists off everyone in a restaurant as a c***, including, “mother, brother, his lover and her mother” type digressions, going on to find many possibilities for the inclusion of c*** in a sentence; “may I Cuntinue? you can C*** on me…”. He’s audacious but hilarious and the audience are onside, although with a fostering awareness that Leon is spiralling out of control. Night time belongs to Ginny, and the rhythm of the piece plays a nice dynamic in mood and tension. These are soft personal tragi-comic moments and her small discoveries of the closest items that reference womanhood for a confused child are compelling to watch.

This play draws inspiration from John Irving’s Until I Find You, a novel about a woman obsessively searching for the father of her son, that becomes the victim of sexual abuse by several female characters. Crazy In Love scarcely alludes to anything as strong, and yet there are moments where suddenly a line is crossed and there’s lots of potential for something more sinister to become apparent in what has been happening. It’s a play that has managed to do several things in text, design, atmosphere, story and performance.

Verdict: An uncomplicated, multi-layered and brilliantly executed piece.

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