Fringe review: Pss Pss

Egging each other on with encouraging gestures, two sweet and silly clowns work together to grow their confidence until they reach great heights in this lofty double act that showcases acrobatic skill and physical presence. ★★★★★

Feb 18, 2019, updated Feb 21, 2019
Pss Pss is 65 minutes of pure joy.

Pss Pss is 65 minutes of pure joy.

Compagnia Baccalà’s Pss Pss takes inspiration from the Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton era of silent films. While it’s never been to Australia before, the show has been seen more than 700 times, in more than 50 countries, on five continents.

Performers Camilla Pessi (from Ticino) and Simone Fassari (from Sicily) met while training at Switzerland’s Scuola Teatro Dimitri. They toured worldwide with other variety and circus companies for several years until they reunited and began performing together. They formed Compagnia Baccalà in 2016. Pss Pss – created in 2010 – is their first full-length work.

The tender relationship between the two tramp-like clowns is the basis of a captivating and hilarious performance that encompasses mime, acrobatics and general slapstick goofing around.

Things that can go wrong DO go wrong, but that’s part of the fun of this tribute to the power of persistence. The two friends keep going until they get it right, supporting each other while revealing a child-like wonder and willingness to experiment.

Pessi and Fassari deliver incredibly nuanced performances, with precise movements and facial expressions that make each character unforgettable.

The action happens on a bare stage with a small collection of props: a couple of apples, a diabolo, a trumpet and an accordion. At the show’s climax, a battered metal ladder serves its regular purpose and also doubles as a musical instrument.

There’s a bit of audience participation, with a volunteer seemingly chosen for his build and unflappable demeanour – both characteristics are essential to the success of the tricks he’s co-opted for.

Silence is an integral component of the show. This was infringed upon, unfortunately, by the volume of the music from a nearby tent. It’s an issue that will no doubt be magnified during the upcoming car race. Despite this early isruption, Pss Pss offered an entrancing theatre experience that created a lingering impression and a truckload of warm fuzzies.

It’s no surprise to learn that this memorable show has won too many awards to mention. Pss Pss is 65 minutes of pure joy: perfectly crafted, utterly charming and suitable for all ages.

Pss Pss is at Ukiyo at Gluttony until March 3. See more Adelaide Fringe reviews and stories here.

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