Created and performed by Chloe Rice and Natasha Roland, this new show, fresh from a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe, is fresh, fun, and constantly surprising.
Rice plays a rodeo clown, starved of love but with dreams of becoming a cowboy. In status this little clown may be low, but punches above their weight once joined by a shadow who looks and acts just like them.
That’s the way the story goes, but nothing is what it seems, where cowboys tease, animals talk, and love blossoms. This is the love story that isn’t, the comedy that isn’t, the show that isn’t.
In a set strewn with cowboy hats, kerchiefs and make-up paint pots, and with a soundtrack of Dolly, Elvis, and Johnny Cash, this is a feat of physical clowning and emotional exploration that leaves you yearning for more.
Rokand plays cowboy, steer, and shadow, with a swagger appropriate to all. As a team, these performers work in tandem seamlessly, thriving on each other’s shorthand. That in itself is interesting to watch.
Both thrilling and tender, And Then The Rodeo Burned Down seeks to rebel against the mores of storytelling while wryly commentating on the costly mechanics of staging a show. Very pertinent in an arts and energy crisis.
With the lighting failing (by design of Angelo Sagnelli), the music distorting, and the two clowns moving from antagonism to a kind of romance, it feels right and just that the rodeo changes – whether it crashes and burns, or not, doesn’t really matter.
This is a cleverly written and structured show that has a bit of magic, a bit of manure (the posh work for bullshit, chosen for alliteration), and a lot of marvellous.
And Then The Rodeo Burned Down is on at the King’s Head until 11 Feb – tickets here.