These two clowns can’t even reach their own trapeze, so they end up playing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star on a stepladder. The different sized pipes from the rungs of the ladder make for an unusual triangular rendition.
Baccala Clowns also enlist an audience member to balance on, without it being clear whether or not he’s a plant. If not, it’s a real risk – supposing he has weak knees or shoulders? – and they also flout health and safety by moving the ladder over the audience’s heads. If so, it’s still an engaging ploy. And they certainly coax the audience into group hugs.
The stepladder moment is not the only one that suggests that a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for… Camilla Pessi and Simone Fassari also play with an apple and banana, striving for a mouthful, with the man stuck in a gaping loop, unable to take a bite. Their lopsided hugs – with the woman absorbed but the man bored – also suggest mismatched dreams. So although Pss Pss is billed as suitable for age five upwards, it has some adult nuance too.
The bemused couple tread lightly, with physical skill. They are distinctive characters, even when swinging on the trapeze, perhaps particularly the shockheaded woman. The show plays a lot with the teasing symmetry of bodies, mirrored, angular, upside down and back to front. Depth and dexterity, you could say.
The design is sharp – for example lime and red colours in the costume match that of the accordion. Layers are used to great effect, with a comic mini-frock for curtseying, and a big gash of fabric hanging provocatively at another point.
Pss Pss does have a few lulls. It works within familiar European traditions, so is perhaps only gently innovative, although highly skilled. However, it is difficult to harden the heart against such a teasingly uplifting performance.