Kaput [FringeTIX]
Tom Flanagan @ Le Cascadeur
3:30pm, Sun 19 Feb 2012
The queue snaking around the side of Le Cascadeur is long; thankfully the sun is hiding behind thick cloud cover. As we file into Cinema Kaput, Tom Flanagan – ex-Circus Oz and Tom Tom Crew – announces each individual admittance by ringing a bell and stamping their ticket (or arm), stilted and curious in his quaint 30’s-ish garb. The venue is packed, and I’m mildly annoyed that a family has commandeered my usual Casca-Hidey-Hole. Still, the back row provides back support too, and – thankfully – not much of Flanagan’s act is performed low down; it’s definitely a friendly performance for the space.
After sprinkling the audience with popcorn, Flanagan – with short, sharp movements that evoke memories of Chaplin – prepares for the crux of the performance; the film for which we have gathered in Cinema Kaput. The projector craps out; in attempting to fix the projector, Flanagan inadvertently pokes a hole in the cinema screen. In attempting to fix the hole, he creates a bigger hole; in attempting to fix that, he trashes the screen completely. Then the projector starts losing its magic smoke, and he’s left with no alternative but to drag a pretty member of the audience up to help act out the movie: “Love Story”.
Kaput was a real surprise. Given Flanagan’s tremendous acrobatic background (and I think I saw him in Circus vs. Sideshow, too), one would’ve expected a more high-energy affair, chock-full of dangerous balances and tumbles. But Kaput is more about slapstick and old-school playing-for-laughs than it is spectacle; sure, there’s the odd trick here and there (the ladder entanglement was really well integrated into the script, and the raining-umbrella trick at the end was well done too – on the fourth attempt), but it largely relied on his bumbling nature.
That’s not to take anything away from Flanagan, however: it’s a charming performance, and his handling of the audience – whether it was the mocking sneers to the child that always laughed loudly at his misfortunes, or the corralling of his (beautiful) audience mark – was smooth as silk. Kaput proved to be a delightful, family-friendly experience, and one that should broaden Flanagan’s reach as a performer.