FestivalsReviewSouth East

BRIGHTON FRINGE: Stepdads – The Warren: Theatre Box

Creators: Bright Buoy Productions

Reviewer: Simon Topping

Steve (Luke Rollason) and Allen (Tom Curzon) are Stepdads and they’ve got the groovy knitwear to prove it. We, the audience, are all their stepchildren for the evening in this fun packed hour, where the dads explain the awesome responsibility of their role, what makes them fit for it and why they are better than our real dad, who is languishing in prison. For this they use the medium of song, dance and comedy, with plenty of crowd interaction.

In the opening tune, we find out how many steps there are to being a Step-Dad, it turns out there are 10. Engaging the theatre to join in, in places, the pair act out these stages, including catching balls, doing things with sticks and simply having a lot of fun (which is step number one).

Rollason and Curzon are nice to watch together, the contrast of their shape, size and movement are in itself very amusing. Curzon, tall and broad, plays the idiot manchild well. With his shaggy hair, beard and colourful clothing he looks like a handsome, yet deranged, Barry Gibb crossed with Mr Tumble; it’s a look that gets attention. Rollason, much smaller in frame, tries to keep him in hand, to varying degrees of success and has a glorious comedy face, as well as being a creditable fool himself.

There is a tear-inducingly funny scene where Curzon reveals tattoos on his body while inexplicably pulling down his trousers and there are several gleefully delivered puns to add to the mirth.

As the piece progresses we find out the stepdads, and indeed all stepdads, are spies. This leads to a convoluted plotline where the duo have to search for our real dad (Frank), track him down and kill him. The finale has Frank and Allen dual in a 1980s beat-em-up computer game style with two audience members in charge of controlling their moves. This is both very bizarre and wonderfully bonkers at the same time.

Clowning acts are all over the Fringe this year and most have been trained, like Curzon, by Philippe Gaulier, in one way or another, which naturally leads to a certain amount of homogenisation across those shows and a fair few of those techniques are easily identifiable in Stepdads. However, the pair use their training to good effect here and the room is filled with laughter throughout the night.

Like a twenty first century Cannon and Ball, Curzon and Rollason revel in intentional “mistakes”, clowning buffoonery and the fantastic chemistry they share between each other. Stepdads is a show full of wonderful silliness, well worth a watch.

Reviewed on 28 May 2019 | Image: Contributed

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