4-30 August, 14.30
A pair of idiots whipping each other with leeks hardly seems like a particularly strong premise on which to build an hour long show. Though a great deal of Cirque de Legume consists of such broad slapstick moments, clowns Jaimie Carswell and Nancy Trotter-Landry never outstay their welcome. Instead, with director Pablo Ibarluzea's assistance, they somehow succeed in dressing their mindless chaos up as high art.
The show's fundamental strength is that it includes well placed moments of tension for which the duo's brand of cartoon violence provides an emotional release. When the performers take to the stage in nervous silence and begin to treat a romaine lettuce as if it were a dog, the baffled audience is unsure whether to laugh or not. It is minutes later as the front rows sit covered in vegetable debris that the atmosphere begins to lighten.
There is little to justify the duo's behaviour other than the faint sense of malevolence which underlies the show. In a segment entitled "The Horse of Spain", Carswell's mime act is sabotaged as his domineering partner force feeds him a succession of carrots. As he lies on the stage, choking to a soundtrack of mariachi music, she postures atop him as though intentionally adding to his discomfort.
Such antics wouldn't seem so charming if the performers didn't imbue their parts with a childlike, wide-eyed sincerity, a trait embodied by Trotter-Landry's onion striptease. As she coyly promenades the stage, raising a finger to her pouting lips as she peels back the onion's layers, it's hard not to be won over.
- Lewis Porteous