Voloz Collective describe themselves as an ‘International Physical Theatre Company’ and consist of Olivia Zerphy, Paul Lofferon, Emily Wheatman, and Sam Rayner, accompanied by musical director Frederick Waxman. Their show is set in 1963, where Roger Clement is a Frenchman living in New York, working for an advertising agency. Roger has a set routine, down to the minute. He gets up, he goes to work, he comes home, has dinner and goes to bed. He is not unhappy: this is his routine, this is his life.
The cast plays out Roger’s daily routine for us; eating breakfast, locking his door, commuting and so on. There is simple, effective physical theatre to show us these actions and to bring us into the unexceptional regimen of Roger’s unexceptional days. Until one day something changes. A small delay ends up saving his life when his office explodes. Why does his office explode? Well, therein lies the story, which jumps through genres, locations, accents and ever crazier situations as we unravel the mystery of whodunnit.
Along with Roger’s office, the physical theatre and comedy also explode when Roger spots a clue in the debris, realises it looks familiar and then time rewinds. It’s from that moment that I think Voloz Collective had us in the palm of their hands, as they charged onwards in a brilliant whirlwind of story and movement.
The script is razor-sharp and gets just as many laughs as the physical theatre. There is no let-up, there is no pause: it is full steam ahead with enormous energy, expression and enthusiasm radiating out from the stage. And this isn’t just in moments here and there: it is piece by piece, scene by scene. There is a fully engaged audience laughing along, and at times it feels like we are willing everyone on stage onwards and upwards, projecting energy to the performers. The joy was palpable.
In a show with physical comedy and acrobatics, timing is key. Here, it is perfect in both the performance and also the writing. Each joke, each action, each pose is held for just the right amount of time; nothing too long and nothing overstays its welcome.
A quick word to praise Frederick Waxman, the musical director: he is on stage playing the keyboard when the doors open and it is clear from early on there is a lot more to his role than this. He provides excellent music and sound effects and has a funny almost-cameo towards the end. Waxman looked to be having an absolute ball, notably grinning at audience reactions throughout.
I am so pleased this made it to the lovely Omnibus Theatre as part of their Vaults Transfer Season. It’s already had one show added to its brief run here, so snap up a ticket if you can. At the end, after quite some applause, there were a few brief words from the Collective. This included that they will be back for the Fringe later in the year. I can’t remember the last time I came out of the theatre wanting to book to see the same show again. Well Voloz Collective, I’ll see you at the Fringe and I can’t wait!
Written, produced, directed and performed by: Voloz Collective
lighting design by: Joe Underwood
The Man Who Thought He Knew Too Much plays at Clapham’s Omnibus until 5 March. Further information about this show and Voloz Collective can be found on their website via the below button.