Performance review: Gigantic guffaws in the ship’s hull


Most of those gathered in Bådteatret’s dark ship hull to watch ‘Slapstick & Slaughter’ yesterday evening probably had little idea of what to expect.

Few would have suspected the bombardment of comic absurdity that followed and to be crying with laughter – literally.

Monty Python sends his regards
The show is staged by the touring street theatre company from Bristol in the UK, Desperate Men, who have already made a name for themselves with pieces such as ‘Stinkfoot, a Comic Opera’ and ‘Darwin and the Dodo’. It’s therefore not too surprising that their latest masterpiece has quite frequently been compared to the iconic Monty Python.

Made in response to the atrocities of World War I, performers Jon Beedell and Richard Headon feed off the absurd spirit of Dadaism, an artform revolting against the madness of the times that tries to ‘heal and free people’ in its very own unique ways using sheer nonsense, anarchical humour and supreme irony.

Surreal all around
Popping out like weathermen from behind a huge abstract canvas that keeps moving around the stage, ripping pages from Marx’s Manifesto, acting out senseless dialogues or spinning a rusty iron hoop on an empty stage so that it upstages them caused guffaws of laughter from the audience.

The show’s surreal feel was perfectly supported by Bådteatret’s own unique setting with its blackish painted interior, the smell of water and its limited space, allowing only a small group of spectators to enjoy the performance.

Effective moments of silence
Short but effective moments of silence within all the absurdity pulled the audience back to the brutality of war. A soldier carrying his wounded comrade on his back or the actors singing ‘It’s A Long Way to Tipperary’ while one of them removes a shoe and a sock to check if his foot is still there had a noticeable impact on everyone watching.

‘Slapstick & Slaughter’ is a perfectly staged show. Lots of thought and effort have clearly gone into every little detail. It’s hysterically funny, but comes with real depth that will make you think at the same time.