If London International Mime Festival plans to return to the Barbican, amongst many other venues, in 2024, Claire Parry would be well worth a call. Yes, she does talk/ mumble (Mr Bean springs to mind at times) but it is her physical performance that has the audience in happy rapture, obeying every wave of her baton. It’s really not far removed from a mime performance.
Parry’s creation, Boorish Trumpson, embodies the worst of not only its near-namesakes, but of every person who has somehow worked their way up the career ladder by treading on others, attempting to get there without any recognition of their own stupidity. And right now, Trumpson has somehow found himself leading an orchestra’s rehearsals ahead of them playing the Royal Alfred Hall. He is clearly planning to put his own unique mark on things. And much like with those managers we’ve all had, it could well lead to dissent in the ranks; not that they will care or even notice.
From the moment Parry pokes her-floppy haired head around from the sidelines, beaming excitedly as Trumpson finally recognises his chance to be in charge, she has the audience completely in the palm of her hand. The first few minutes, as she rushes around the stage like an over-excited child in a sweetshop, perfectly set the tone for the following hour. Wordlessly, she grabs our attention and then holds onto it without any let-up. And at the same time, some of the audience clearly catch Trumpson’s eye, whether they want it or not!
We all become the orchestra, with Trumpson eager to put his stamp on the music to be played and singling out individuals for special treatment. Some are handed instruments to play (no musical talent required as is very obvious throughout), whilst one lucky (or unlucky, it’s hard to decide) person is picked out to be Trumpson’s lackey, dragged repeatedly from their seat to do his bidding! This clownish conductor is clearly too good to do such menial work as picking up a dropped sheet of music or move their music stand a few inches forward. But heaven forbid any of us overstep our mark and try to impress, after all, Trumpson doesn’t want to share the limelight with us unimportant minnows.
Parry really is an incredible performer. Her Lecoq training shines through in her every movement, as she glides around the stage, all arms and legs and floppy blonde locks, instructing us to do her bidding with little more than a flick of her wrist and a nod of her head. She is simply spellbinding. It’s almost exhausting watching as she uses every inch of the bare stage. She also handles her press-ganged volunteers well, adjusting quickly when one is less volunteer and more difficult objector.
The production’s title is somewhat misleading and quite possibly doing the show a disservice. The clearly political overtones could perhaps put people off what is in fact a tremendous, light-hearted comedy, and that would be such a shame. Yet the politics are easily overlooked; mostly they form part of an amusing riff on 52% of the audience voting for a break. And as we know, break means break even if the promised carrot cake doesn’t appear.
There are moments of calmness amongst the madness. Flashbacks give us a chance to breath, adding context to Trumpson’s questionable behaviour. It would be lovely for these moments to be expanded upon further, and perhaps a slightly longer run time would allow for this.
Boorish Trumpson is a quite unique experience that has its audience laughing throughout, even when getting death stares for interrupting the barmy conductor’s moment to shine. It could easily work without a political angle, building further still on the wonderful physical elements. And it could definitely grace the stage of The Barbican. After all, isn’t that where so many leading orchestras play? Which is what Boorish Trumpson so desperately desires to be part of.
Written by: Claire Parry
Directed and dramaturg by: Alex Prescot and Lily Levinson
Clowning/movement direction by: Lisa Berg
Sound Design by: Fizz Margereson
Boorish Trumpson has completed its current run at VAULT Festival.
Note: This review has been amended from the original publication, as we incorrectly stated that London International Mime Festival had been cancelled. This is incorrect, rather the festival is still reviewing its plans for next year.