Losing It[author-post-rating] (4/5 Stars)

Don’t be fooled by the sad clown faces that stare dejectedly back at you from Losing It’s promotional poster. And don’t worry too much about the ambiguous programme notes that await you at your seat when you enter the cosy theatre that is The Warren, pop-up venue number 58 at Brighton’s Fringe Festival. Be intrigued by the four empty chairs and the pile of shabby coats that lay uninhabited on the stage before you.

Consider the theme: loss. What have you lost in life? Your keys, your friends in a club, a loved one, perhaps even your lust for life? Now imagine it personified by clowns, through the medium of mime and comedy. No matter what kind of loss you’ve experienced, Not Easy Company personify it in a way that is both hilarious and heart-wrenching.

Filling those four empty chairs are Ben Edmonds, Michelle Lediert, Ezra Lynch and Elena Saorin. Saorin’s typical sad clown, with her tired jazz hands and general lack of fervour, is a comical juxtaposition to which Lediert’s somewhat dim and overzealous buffoon provides much-needed contrast. Edmonds’ unwavering deadpan expression is the simplest of comedic successes – a silent monotone, if you will. Complementing this is Lynch’s calm and contented entertainer, shrugging on his jacket in time to the music and smiling benignly at the audience, who received the work – co-directed by Edmonds and Sian Thomas – warmly and enthusiastically.

Wit and wordlessness don’t often go hand in hand, but Losing It succeeds in both, using music, movement, props and the odd well-timed facial tick to create a thoroughly enjoyable piece of theatre. Despite the characters’ silence (save for a brief scene in which their nonsense language has the audience in fits), Losing It is both deeply funny and desperately sad, tapping into one of the few things that as humans we have no control over. Visually, Losing It is intriguing and whimsical, with surreal blue and red lighting (by Martin Chick) and each of the characters appearing in mismatched clothing, wigs and exaggerated white clown mouths. The soundtrack composed by Jake Rousham – and to which dancing is abundant – can only be described as killer.

Due to the absence of words the piece does lack narrative, which some may find off-putting. You may also find yourself hard-pressed to link every skit with loss, unless an unwittingly helpful audience member happens to shout out “You’ve all lost it!” during a particularly weird and wonderful dance scene. And then it might just all make sense. Losing It is about losing your way, but it is also about finding solace in your loss, in finding comfort with others who have experienced a moment as fleeting as a bubble – all the more beautiful for its brevity.

Losing It is playing again at The Warren, Main House on 25 May. For more information and tickets, see the Brighton Fringe website.