Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Good Clown Bad Clown review at Bristol Old Vic Studio

The massive restoration programme at the Theatre Royal means the only home ground for the Bristol Old Vic this Christmas is the Studio. Wisely, management has decided to reserve it yet again for its very youngest audience, with this splendidly inventive treat from award-winning children’s playwright Renata Allen.

Two circuses, or at least their clowns, have come to town. They are owned by the scheming baddie Zimzam, played by Ian Summers in the stand-up comedian idiom of jokes at everyone else’s expense, and Chris Farish`s goody Hiphop, whose innocence ensures that all the laughs are on him, particularly when he loses his circus to Zimzam in a rigged bet. This is just the launching pad for an imaginative and bizarre series of adventures with just the slightest hint of moral message thrown in.

The knockabout humour is second to none, spurred on by Bristol-based pantomime queen Alison Fitzjohn in roles ranging from a circus hand to a French princess in a castle turret. Along with ample audience participation, associate director John Retallack even finds time for his cast to lapse into accents ranging from Bristolese and Miles Kington Franglais to pure Downton Abbey.

Production Information

Bristol Old Vic Studio, December 2-January 7

Renata Allen
John Retallack
Bristol Old Vic
Chris Farish, Alison Fitzjohn, Ian Summers
Running time

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price