Wereldband: Släpstick

Virtuosic musical comedy is a feast for the eyes as well as ears

dance review | Read in About 2 minutes
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Published 09 Aug 2017

A slapstick was once a device used to create sound and comedy simultaneously. Making good on their title's promise, Wereldband never miss a beat in their multi-skilled, multi-instrumentral homage to past greats, delivering a tour-de-force musical extravaganza of classic physical comedy.

The Dutch band have been directed by Stanley Burleson, who has created a dramaturgically complete universe of vintage hipster appeal, set in the backstage area of an old Hollywood lot. Projections of silent movie footage, exquisite costume design from Jan Aarntzen, and gorgeous colours shining on brass and warm wood—an orchestral collection of every instrument you could imagine—set the scene for a series of clowned compositions based at a fictional fairground. New Jersey patter man Jon Bittman is extraordinary as he rustles up custom for half-time games between musical sketches. 

The choice of instruments played is as integral to the action as the five men's impeccable comic timing, and offers some inventive suprises too. There is a ghost of hurdy-gurdy beneath all the mash-up compositions, but if this is not to your usual taste the song material offers enough variety to hold interest, spanning barbershop Beyoncé, television themes and old man crooning that also manages to strike a chord on the inside.

We're left, though, with one big conundrum. Is it: "How did these clowns become such accomplished musicians?" Or is it: "How did these musicians become such accomplished clowns?"