The latest offering from People Show – the UK’s longest-running experimental theatre group – is a mind-boggling accumulation of imagery that’s almost impossible to categorise.
A French puppet, a tennis ball, the can-can, a magic show, acrobatics (at least the promise of), a crucifix, smooth jazz music, a tram and a cigarette are among just some of the images that swirl around, never congealing into anything as simplistic as a plot.
And that’s the point: God Knows How Many is a sea of sensory experiences held together by the commitment of its performers and a love of the bizarre.
Founding members Mark Long – a comedic, cerebral presence – and George Khan – a smooth, saxophone-playing straight man – are joined by Emil Wolk, who is at times the stooge and at others the suave star, donning a series of flamboyant suits and a nappy in the process.
It’s their warmth and watchablity that holds the evening together. As the sensory experiences pile up – and the chances of working out what’s going on recede – it’s clear the audience is expected to sit back and enjoy the spectacle.
The set and props are endearingly – and deliberately – lo-fi and not the only things about the show that are rather Pythonesque. But People Show is neither stuck in the past nor meaninglessness. Woven in are references to the endlessly demanding ‘man’ on the other end of the phone who would sell out creativity for cash. Which is exactly something these ‘warriors of idiocy’ would resist.