Writer: Justin Teddy Cliffe
Director: Paul Jenkins
Reviewer: Beth Steer
Pitted as a ‘semi-autobiographical act of self-schadenfreude’ that becomes an ‘audience responsive ragged-scream-party-piece’, The TigerFace Show certainly lives up to its claim of being ‘one part misery, two parts joyful.’
As Justin Teddy Cliffe shuffles onto the stage wearing a tattered tiger-print onesie with his face painted like he’s going to a children’s party, the audience isn’t sure what to think. What ensues, over the course of the next hour, is a somewhat surreal exploration of the hopes and dreams of childhood, and how they’re often dashed, abandoned, or forgotten, by the time we reach adulthood. The set itself is a lack-lustre portrayal of an aging children’s television show, complete with DIY arts and crafts projects, animal puppets, and a sad-looking pull-along truck full of toys and props.
A nearly-one-man-show, save for the ad-hoc interruptions of Kirsty Harris, as the unenchanting Dream Maker, The TigerFace Show covers some interesting ground. The humour develops as the piece goes on, incorporating, and twisting all the painful tropes of a children’s television show. An overly simplified xylophone-led theme tune, a read-a-long story-time, a ‘do it yourself’ craft section, complete with ‘one made earlier’, and a host of animal characters who are smug, obnoxious, and endearing in equal measure.
Cliffe plays the disenfranchised children’s entertainer brilliantly – contorting his TigerFace through a range of expressions in seconds, parodying the excruciating mime and jokes that have kept children laughing through the ages, and mastering several dialogues simultaneously. Playing Croc (from under the rock), Parrot Paul (RIP), and Mr. and Mrs Worm (what a divergence) as well as responding to cues from the soundtrack, he’s sweaty (self-proclaimed), seething, and full of sass.
At times, it’s comedy genius. At others, it’s a bit unrefined and rough around the edges. That said, the message shines through – or, rather, hits you in the face in a burst full of confetti and blaring Daryl & Oates – don’t stop believing that you can be anything you want to be, even if you’ve grown up.
Reviewed on 28th February 2019 | Image: Contributed