Courtney Pauroso: Gutterplum | Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett
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Courtney Pauroso: Gutterplum

Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett

In the programme blurb, Gutterplum makes much of its connections with Natalie Palamides’s acclaimed shows Laid and Nate, sharing a director in American clown svengali Dr Brown and a producer in London’s Soho Theatre.

But although Courtney Pauroso is a compelling performer, her debut lacks the daring inventiveness of its sister shows, and – unless you’re a newcomer to this type of modern clowning – much of a sense of surprise.

The start is definitely boilerplate, with the star emerging slowly on to the stage before starting to play a game with the audience in silence, hesitantly at first, until confidence and trust grow. Here it’s catch with a yoga ball that breaks the ice.

Pauroso introduces herself as Dale Ravioli, a nerdy tomboy and selects a best pal from the audience. They literally kick the can around, as well as play leapfrog and piggy-back in a charming evocation of childhood relationships.

But we don’t stay there long, for this is Dale’s entire life condensed into an hour and soon she’s hitting puberty, stripping down to her bra, necking beer and asking if we want to party. It’s unnerving, frankly, since she seems too young; she only just had her first period in the timeline.

And so she goes on to live her life, in and out of contact with the guy she selected to play leapfrog with. Their scenes together are improv but with the unfair twist that the professional has a script and the patsy has to wing it. Five stars for the very game Harry, who played the part he never expected to perfection, even adding funny lines while advancing the narrative – such that it was - with his ‘yes, ands…’

As the straightforward story plays out, Pauroso cavorts around naked for a while, teasing ‘do you want to see my pussy?’ because that’s what you do in clowning now. It’s a rare moment where there are some laughs, even if out of nervousness, as for most of the show the audience watch in respectful or occasionally baffled silence.

Nor are there twists, nor food for thought, over the hour. Pauroso is very watchable, switching from manic to mournful in a beat, but there’s too little to her alter-ego – at least in adult form – to engage.

It all seemed like so much self-indulgent pseudo-artistic nonsense, a pale imitation of the previous clowning shows that have become such a festival staple.

Review date: 12 Aug 2019
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Underbelly Cowgate

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