★★★★★ BROADWAY BABY
"Inexplicably Wonderful Comic Theatre"
It’s pretty hard to describe this one-man show without either sounding obtuse, ignorant or both. What “Vitamin” entails is fifty-five minutes of inexplicably wonderful comic theatre that gets you to laugh uproariously, pretty much continuously, for reasons that are either beyond my faculties or remain totally mystical.
Carlo Jacucci (Ecole Phillippe Gaulier) is our guide - or rather, our entertainer - for the evening, taking us through completely unrelated but consistently brilliant sketches that range from the bizarre – ‘The Saddest Song in the World’, played on the accordion accompanied by various vocal wailings – to the sublime: I have never seen a caterpillar impersonated so accurately and with such charm. We wander, apparently randomly, through a series of technically brilliant and madcap sequences that are ‘about life’, a claim on the programme that is both met and destroyed in this production.
Jacucci is a master clown, always deadpan and always in control of the increasingly hysterical audience, throwing out his opening gambit (a nod, and a suave ‘goood…’) at precise intervals, inviting them to continue reeling in their seats. He uses nonsense to confound us and truth to win us over, never taking himself too seriously, nor ever being fazed by anything the audience does. An example of his steady confidence: he summarised the first few minutes of the play to latecomers in physical form – twice – and still managed to keep us on his side.
There is no doubt that this is a clown act that you want to succeed. It doesn’t make sense, there is no narrative and there is no political message, but if you want to laugh and laugh this is the show for you. Jacucci has struck gold with his secure, knowledgeable and charming style, and he will leave you laughing uncontrollably at what could only be described as pure physical comedy.
Reviewed by Emma-Jane Denly in Broadway Baby on 21 August 2012 at the Ediburgh Festival Fringe
"A contemporary clown full of vitality and inventive insanity"
‘Vitamin ... A contemporary clown full of vitality and inventive insanity. There’s a wonderful economy to his performance, with not a movement or a muttered word wasted … The impressively minute details in his physical comedy wring every drop of humour from the simplest jokes’
Reviewed by Three Weeks in August 2012 at the Ediburgh Festival Fringe
OTHER PRESS QUOTES
"A master practicioner of the awkward. Don't miss it”
Jim High, Prague TV
“Physical Comedy at its near best”
James Davidson, Fringe Review
"A gloriously life-affirming flow of silliness”
Julie Dawson, The Edinburgh Reporter
“It transcends meaning and becomes pure humour”
Simon Gwynn, Fringe Review
Sally Stott, The Scotsman
Malaysia Travel News
“Vitamin's imagination is spectacular”
Jan Procházka, Plays to See
“南洋商报” Nanyang Siang Pau
(the Chinese daily in Malaysia)
扭转正常世界“Vitamin”: Reversing the normal world
If you like nonsense and unfettered fun, this really is a one-man show you must see. The original Carlo Jacucci (actor) shows a whole new direction to comedy, with different storytelling techniques in a physical and musical performance. This is a physical comedy about leadership, running, preaching, and about performing as a musician, and it all leads to... being a caterpillar. If when reading this you are confused, then consider that in this polyhedric show, every role that is played displays actions that are against the norm and we constantly encounter the unexpected.
It is all well worth it. He takes us to a fantastic world where inanimate objects are injected with vitality, the normal world is reversed, and so is the audience.
Reviewed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at the Kaki Seni Festival, by “南洋商报” Nanyang Siang Pau (the Chinese daily in Malaysia)
★★★★ THE TIMES
"Rarely do you hear cackles this unrestrained"
Clowning isn't for everyone, but it's for far more people than it used to be. In any room of comedy performers, you can guarantee that a handful have just been to clown school. They've been partly inspired by recent award-winners. Ther's the pop-culture clown the Boy with Tape on His Face, whose dialogue-free sets play neat tricks with chart hits and film scenes. There's the unnervingly anarchic clown Dr Brown, whose mimed shows wrap his entire audience into his bold storytelling.
And there's also Carlo Jacucci, the Italian behind Vitamin, who has studied under (and even teaches for) the master of clowning, Philippe Gaulier. Jacucci is a talking clown who matches physical theatre with the spoken word and, mercifully, with tremendous punchlines.
Jacucci possesses snatches of surrealness to rival Vic and Bob, only more gently delivered. His lines of dialogue are in themselves an absurdist treat: "When I was a dog..." features in one set piece; another nonsense yarn focuses on a nun in a closed shopping centre. Such words, though, are all the more delightful when woven into sketches, their themes returning and amplifying into beguilingly nutty treats.
As Jacucci rakes through hist props and his imagination, he uses a suitcase to help him fly; for an unforgettable sequence he becomes a frustrated caterpillar with the use of a sock and some knitwear. If comedy is meant to help an audience to see things differently, job absolutely done.
Clowning is about stripping down barriers and inhibitions to build up something unique and direct. It often relies on repetition and nonsense that some prople find alienating. In Vitamin there were rare weak moments that felt like a drama-club exercise in speaking gobbledegook or in inventing a new use for an old object. Mainly, though, Jacucci is fa more skilful than that, combining pure silliness with finely crafted word games and tales that draw on deep emotion and joy. His mix of near-primordial simplicity with imaginative charm was met by the audience's near primordial laughter. Rarely do you hear cackles this unrestrained: hoots and howls and brays.
At the shows finale (and staggeringly cute it was) I felt at first that some scenes had been too slight. I quickly reconsidered: it was that an hour of this felt too short. If they are as good as this, bring on more clowns.
Reviewed in "The Times" by Alex Hardy, seen at Soho Theatre, London, July 8th 2014