Love & Rabbits is a perfectly precious poetic piece about love, rabbits, and so much more. Performed at the intimate studio space of the Etcetera Theatre above The Oxford Arms pub in Camden, The Underground Clown Club presents a string of short stories in verse; some of them are childish, some of them are tragic, but all of them are hilarious.
The stage is bare, apart from a white chair, a pair of hats, a hula-hoop, two books and two elephant masks. Before they even enter, these objects create intrigue and prepare us for the magnificent randomness that is about to come.
The two Underground Clowns, Katie Overstall and Andrew Skipper, show extreme precision as they seemingly effortlessly present their rhymes, sometimes in perfect unison, often accompanied by brilliant facial expressions and well-timed sound effects. Their sense of rhythm and comic timing is excellent, and their chemistry allows them to play a wide variety of character duos, be that father and daughter, space cleaners, circus masters or even the same person. And while they have stories that are more domestic, like The Last Supper, their forte lies in the more childish and fantastical anecdotes, because they deliver them with unrelenting energy. While Overstall wears a big sweater, jeans and tennis shoes, Skipper is dressed rather smart in a shirt, vest and dress pants. This clash of casual and elegant represents quite well the mismatched themes of the piece.
I would have never believed that a series of stories about a child who wants to play in the snow, or an elf breaking into a bedroom, or two people cleaning space could entertain me, but Love & Rabbits is performed with such energy, devotion, innocence and heart, that before you know it, you are hooked, you are laughing, and most of all, you feel for the characters. Overstall and Skipper quickly establish a connection with their audience by breaking the fourth wall, turning one of their audience members into a circus elephant or giving one of them a carrot.
As mentioned at the beginning and at the end of the performance, “Words, words, words, words, words[…] are damn good fun”, and The Underground Clown Club are true masters of them. Their rhymes are witty, unpredictable and family friendly, spiced with a hint of dark humour that is a wink to the adults. I was surprised to not see younger audience members, because Love & Rabbits is full of colour, childish silliness and innocent themes that make these clowns truly irresistible.
Love & Rabbits played at the Etcetera Theatre. For more information, see The Underground Clown Club website. Photo by David Sell.