And Then the Rodeo Burned Down. The King’s Head Theatre, 115 Upper Street, Islington, London N1 to 4 February 2023. 3***. William Russell.

Garlanded with praise and last year the Scotsman’s Edinburgh Fringe First Award this funny, silly and even more opaque than waiting for Godot – a kind of waiting for Coco really – has some inspired clowning, lots of falling about and two performers – Chloe Rice and Natasha Roland – who have perfected their act as a rodeo clown and shadow. The silver blonde one is the rodeo clown who is confronted by the brunette one who is some kind of shadow conjured up heaven knows why – cue for lots of actions accurately copied, much falling about, and general mayhem. To be honest I had no idea what was happening other than it is a good thing to be a rodeo clown, a better thing to ride the horses, a very bad thing to be the person who cleans up after the horses and the cattle – cue for some nifty work with a couple of spades – and not all that satisfactory to be a shadow. Things also seem to be happening in a time loop. Or so the programme said.

It opens as the blonde puts on clown make up coped by the brunette followed by some magic work with ropes, red handkerchiefs and a lighter and one gathers the rodeo may get burned down although for what reason remains, like so much, obscure. As a mix of clowning and dance it all works splendidly, however, and the result is an evening of gaiety to enjoy if not one to tax the brain other than to cause one to wonder just what it is all about and how on earth the duo manage to keep so gloriously in synch. There are cowboy hats, cowboy boots, lariats and pratfalls all over the place. I suppose it is a kind of Sister Act. Rice and Roland are New York based performers who have worked together for nearly a decade and have clearly established the rapport without which this sort of piece would be impossible to do.

Chloe Rice

Natasha Roland

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