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Laurence Clark: Inspired
Sceptical when told climb every mountain, reach for the skies and follow your dreams? Then this is definitely for you!
Laurence Clark: Fringe 2012
You might have thought Laurence Clark would have been flattered to be called ‘inspiring’. But no, he finds it such a clichéd, condescending sentiment, patronising him for being able to do the simplest things just because he has cerebral palsy. He feels it conveys people’s low expectations of what he is capable of, more than being a genuine compliment.
It’s a fair point, well made – although it doesn’t actually take that long to make it, leaving quite some time for him to ponder what really is inspiring and other digressions. In his mind, Clark’s biggest achievement is his complete collection of Dr Who DVDs, kept in chronological order, not his bringing up of children, as documented in a recent BBC film.
He’s always enjoyed creating mischief with hidden-camera stunts, and here goes out into the streets of London to tell able-bodied people that they are ‘inspiring’ for doing the most mundane things. The video goes on a bit too long, but there are some incidental moments of good humour from these often awkward interactions.
Stronger is his second video, which addresses the issue of how disabled people are often seen as invisible. It would be easy to get political or angry about the way passers-by ignored him, despite all the signs, but this is not the place for that. Instead, Clark’s demeanour is simply to act confused at why people act so oddly towards him – especially as he’s such a cheery, gregarious person – making any points subtly and with a cheeky wit.
Some of the routines between these video tentpoles, such as the segments concentrating on people with the same name, seem a bit more like filler, yet can still produce a crafty punchline or two. His line about disabled people in IT is a particularly sharp one.
This is a show only Clark, and possibly a couple of others, could do – and he pulls it off with customary intelligence and impishness that might, as a collateral consequence, make you think a bit differently,
In the coming Paralympics, ‘inspirational’ is likely to be bandied about a lot. But as Clark makes clear, it’s their sporting prowess that makes them so, not their disability.
|Date of live review: Wednesday 22nd Aug, '12|
Review by Steve Bennett
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