Brighton Fringe: Luke Rollason: Bowerbird and Gämez presents: TV Pilots Live!

In a city as iconoclastic as Brighton, the Jubilee was always going to be weird. Friday was a combination of marauding day trippers and unbothered locals, with the Union Jack per square mile quotient pleasingly low.

Luke Rollason I first saw a few years ago at The Vault Festival, dressed as a sperm. His current show, Bowerbird, has developed gradually over the past few months – including some experimentation at shows I produce – so it was with an entirely undeserved parental pride that I watched the full hour play out to a rapt audience at the spiegel tent.

Even by the exceptional standards of modern clowning, Rollason has a singular physical charm, and it was a pleasure to watch him unleash these skills on a substantial and occasional unwilling audience.

Slight in body but big in hair and eyebrow, Luke is the master of the intentional mistake. From extension cable manipulation while dressed as a preposterous lamp to surreal interludes by human sofas, there’s a beautiful warmth and kindness to this exceptionally stupid material.

Gämez are a Hoopla house team specialising – as the name suggests – in short form improv. TV pilots is a lovely conceit to dredge fresh comedic silt out of some old and familiar games, and despite the small audience – like I said, it was a strange Friday – the troupe gave their all.

I know good performers treat triumph and disaster as the twin imposters that they are said to be, but the energy in the room for TWO paying punters was incredible to see.

It almost felt like we were lucky enough to be at a particularly banging rehearsal, as stupid telenovelas, sweaty and surreal dating shows, and nonsensical interviews all flew by with plenty of laughs and unexpected moments. I loved how much these performers evidently took delight in each other’s cleverness and on-stage successes.

I hear they had a proper audience on Saturday, too, and it’s no less than what they deserve. Go see them at Hoopla Impro if you get a chance, they’re usually around or about.

Luke Rollason and Gämez will, I expect, be performing at the Camden Fringe festival.

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