Clementine – VAULT Festival, London

Reviewer: Adam Stevenson

Writer: Rosalie Minnitt

Directors: Tristan Robinson and Alison Middleton

Clementine Chessington-World-of-Adventures has two problems; she must be married by her 27th birthday and yet every man she falls in love with has the awfully rude habit of dying.

Set ‘sometime in the past’, Clementine is a rococo stream of nonsense, silly jokes, references from every time period and other assorted ‘stuff’. In her world, Tik-Tok songs and fancy balls go hand-in-hand, a lover called Fred may lose their head and a lunatic asylum has a welcome pack that highlights a ‘thighs, bums and tums’ workout.

Like the epistolary heroines before her, Rosalie Minnitt’s Clementine writes unfeasibly long letters but unlike them, describes the receiving of letters as ‘like crack’. A woman of sensibility, she declares that she is not herself, as she hasn’t cried today but she also callously ignores the servant with the stories of family strife and an ominous blood-streaked handkerchief. To be honest, she’s a raging egotist but she wins the audience by energy and fun writing.

The audience is involved in this production. One man is pulled up on stage to represent Bradley, the latest love of Clementine’s life and Minnitt manages her slightly unruly co-star, creating a lot of laughter. The audience members are also given electric tea-lights, with which they play the stars guiding the main character. She even sings a song to her stars, accompanied by much tea-light waving.

The tone of the show is established by a montage of vintage pictures and video clips, accompanied by modern music, and these clips return to add further laughter. This family are also represented by Sylvanian Family figures, which end up littering the stage, along with all manner of other props.

The jokes come quickly and are grabbed from sources as different as 19th Century improvement manuals and recent internet memes. There also seem to be a number of in-jokes, such as a Flemish DJ called Jens who is Clementine’s guardian angel. He’s in the helpful position of ‘knowing enough to help the story along but not enough to kill it’.

Describing itself as ‘Bridgerton meets The Mighty Boosh’, a more accurate description could be Sir Henry of Rawlinson End for the Fleabag crowd. It’s an enjoyably silly performance, which has its audience laughing throughout.

Reviewed on 3 March 2023

The Reviews Hub Score

Enjoyably nonsensical adventure.

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The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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