Friday, 21 July 2017

Chapter 204: Sam Goodburn is Dumbstruck

All photo credits: Craig Kirkwood
Imagine Adrian Mole pulled Pandora and it's the morning after the night before. He can't believe his luck. Dumbstruck. That is basically the premise for Sam Goodburn's solo show Dumbtruck, only instead of being a spotty nerd, Sam has an endearing, dorky charm. Wanting to make sure he doesn't screw it all up Sam sets about making his still sleeping beauty breakfast, only things don't entirely go to plan... 

From the opener which finds Sam half-undressed creeping around in the girl's floral apartment his character is clearly out of his comfort zone. The next 45 minutes or so pass in a whir of classic slapstick tropes given an innovative modern twist, causing chaos and then further havoc in the attempt to clear it all up. The clowning around would be entertainment itself, but in addition there is a whole series of superb circus tricks and skills propelling the story, whether literally juggling phone-calls from his best mate Brian, and the girl's Mum, as the Nutella Ninja in a novel knife act, or unicycling across a set of beer-bottle panpipes, a lad's own DIY tight-wire, which has to be seen to be believed. 

Sam's skills are self-taught and top-notch, his experience straddling the worlds of both traditional and contemporary circus. I met Sam a couple of years ago unicycling his way across a tightwire when he was with the UK's leading contemporary circus company NoFit State for an open house at Stratford Circus. He had just won Circus Maximus on the Southbank that summer, a competition that seeks out the best in circus talent, and that led to the collaboration with Underbelly to produce Dumbstruck. 

Before that though, Sam had fallen into clowning accidentally (always the best way!) when working as a unicyclist and juggler in the Big Top of Circus Zyair. The clown pulled out and Sam stepped into his oversized shoes with little more than a few hours prep, holed up in MacDonalds, watching back to back videos of classic clown acts for inspiration. Maybe the location brought its own karma, as funnily enough the son of the legendary Coco the Clown (a friend surprised me recently with a first edition of his autobiography - a fascinating read), was the model for Ronald MacDonald. Anyway, Sam improvised four gags on the back of  his research and honed them through trial and error. 

Since then Sam has been mentored and directed by the New Zealand-based renowned clown Fraser Hooper, who also directed Boy With Tape on His Face on Australian tour. Sam travelled out to Wellington for a month earlier this year for workshops with him and to develop the show, and Hooper, over in the UK on tour at the moment, was at Jacksons Lane for the premiere of Dumbstruck earlier this month. As well as the skills and the clowning, credit to Sam that evening for his choice of audience participation and the wonderful moments that generated. I remember another clown (Sean Kempton!) telling me that a great performer will be able to take the audience anywhere. And Sam does. 

Check out The Widow Stanton interview with Sam: 

Sam is takes Dumbstruck to Splatch Cardiff on Sunday 23, July. Check out the Facebook events page: (click here)

Sam will be at the Edinburgh Fringe with Dumbstruck for 3 weeks. 3-13 and 15-27 August:

And, London!, you have one more chance to catch Sam when he appears in Shhh! cabaret on Saturday 29 July at 8pm, the festival finale for the Postcards Festival at Jacksons Lane. 
For more information about the evening: see post (click here)

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