Wereldband: Slapstick review at Assembly George Square, Edinburgh – ‘meticulous musical clowning’
It’s extremely difficult to pin down Wereldband to a particular genre. The Dutch five-piece band are not simply multi-talented musicians performing a range of instruments, but also knock-about clowns, in a similar vein to Laurel and Hardy, Chaplin and Harold Lloyd. Dressed in vaguely scruffy 1930s gentleman’s chic with assorted novelty facial hair, the troupe wouldn’t look out of place on the streets of Shoreditch.
Slapstick emphasises their talent as clowns: a series of meticulously timed routines and running gags are interspersed with an eclectic musical set list. Chaplin’s Smile is mournfully belched out on a tuba and front-man Rogier Bosman leads a barbershop quartet negotiating Uptown Funk in Dutch. One minute they are playing instruments such as the double-bass, trombone or mandolin with remarkable dexterity, the next, they are slapsticks, whacking each other over the head with all the frenzy of a Tom and Jerry cartoon.
A fairground theme is explored as Jon Bittman reels off the patter of a hawker, while wheeling out games for the audience to try their luck. There may be more than a hint of nostalgia about Slapstick, but the show is fresh, face-paced and family friendly.