A Little Horseplay
Steve Sheehan @ The Tuxedo Cat –
Alley Cat somewhere upstairs
6:00pm, Mon 19 Mar 2012
There’s a lazy group hangover enveloping the assembled patrons at the TuxCat this evening… wobbly smiles accompanying reddened eyes and a happy sense of finality. There’s a lot of familiar faces in the crowd, and it’s great to have the opportunity to have one last chat before hibernating for the winter.
This show is, of course, an evolution of 2011’s A Little Horseplay – which was itself a work-in-progress. And the first thing we notice when we get upstairs is that there’s now a set – my, how things have progressed! This scene of a domestic lounge/kitchen plays host to some largely familiar material from last year’s effort – the opera translation (mezzo-soprano Norma Knight features heavily again), Sheehan playing piano with a horse-head mask, and the quiet and considered comedy of Liszt. And, of course, the appearance of a horse, who pops out for three visits with the audience, quietly nibbling the edibles left for it.
But there’s a few chunks of material that are new (or new to me, anyway – I saw last year’s effort very early on), the most notable of which was a completely inexplicable sequence of pet-icide, during which Sheehan and Knight swapped dog and cat masks. And whilst that content is bizarre, it took a retrospective mull on things to remind myself that the rest of Sheehan’s act is pretty bloody odd as well – and that means that people after a traditional comedic experience may be put off. The couple sitting next to me certainly did not audibly laugh once; I’m not even sure they cracked a smile. But they still clapped fast and loud at the end of the performance.
A Little Horseplay is still a lovely little pocket of surreality. While it didn’t feel as fresh as when I first encountered it – an inevitability, given the familiarity – it was still a really enjoyable (and funny, in a curious kind of way) way to round out 2012’s Fringe.