Oxford Mail - 29th December 1967


By Don Chapman

AFTER the master at the New Theatre, his disciple at the Playhouse. And the comparison is bound to be to the detriment of the younger man.

   Even in those items he borrows from his repertoire - The Lion Tamer and The Balloon Seller - Lindsay Kemp cannot rival the great French mime's economy and eloquence of expression, and in his own mimes he only hints at universal truths Marcel Marceau somehow manages to express.

   For all that he is an artist of great promise - as Marceau acknowledged when he saw him at the Edinburgh Festival - and Pierrot in Turquoise, the new show he gave members of the Young Playhouse Association a first glimpse of yesterday, has great promise too.

   At the moment it is something of a pot-pourri. Mr Kemp - with the assistance of Craig San Roque - has devised a fetching pantomime through which Pierrot pursues his love of life, his Columbine, tricked by Harlequin and deceived by the ever-changing Cloud.

   Natasha Kornilof has designed a beautiful backdrop and some gorgeous costumes. And David Bowie has composed some haunting songs, which he sings in a superb, dreamlike voice.

   But beguilingly as he plays Cloud, and vigorously as Jack Birkett mimes Harlequin, the pantomime isn't a completely satisfactory framework for some of the items from his repertoire that Mr Kemp, who plays Pierrot, chooses to present.

   His mime of the clown who sells his shirt to buy a flower for Columbine then, when Harlequin wins her from him with a bunch of flowers, exchanges the flower for a rope from which to hang himself, is perfect.

   And with a little rearrangement Butterflies, The Balloon Seller and Aimez Vous, Bach? - an amusing number in which he snips open his inside, throws his heart away, and trips off using his intestines as a skipping rope - might be tailored to fit his chosen theme.

   But Lady Burlesque, a satirical portrait of a bored striptease artist, Adam and Eve, a ribald retelling of the Bible story, and Old Woman, Little Bird, a sort of science fiction nightmare, have been shoved in without much forethought because they are mimes Mr. Kemp performs extremely well.

   No doubt these are shortcomings Mr. Kemp will attend to before he presents Pierrot in Turquoise at the Prague Festival at the invitation of Marceau and Fialka next summer. No mean honour for an English mime troupe.