Review: Mump and Smoot in Anything

The celebrated theatrical duo, Mump and Smoot, return to Vancouver with a repertoire of anything (and everything)—a strange blend of empathy, fright and laughter. On opening night, the ‘clowns of horror’ garnered an auditorium full of thrilled fans eager to burst into bouts of hysterical laughter.

Photo by Ian Jackson

Photo by Ian Jackson

Mump and Smoot in Anything explores the pair’s adventurous journey fuelled by the obstacles laid by a ghost named Knooma, played by Jade Benoit, who is seen more frequently setting up props than frightening our heroes. The 80-minute performance is divided into three episodes. In the first episode, “The Escape”, Mump and Smoot are locked inside a cage by the vicious Knooma and the entire segment covers the protracted struggle of reaching for the keys. Right from the opening scene, Mump, portrayed by Michael Kennard, is delineated as pompous and cantankerous, who perpetually dominates the exuberant and subservient Smoot, portrayed by John Turner. The other two segments, “The Romp” and “The Remedy”, sporadically veer into sentiment, with sorrow being the connecting cord between the audience and Mump and Smoot themselves. The duo also confidently transcend sanity and venture into a world of idiocy with ease. “The Remedy” involves hilarious doctor/patient role playing, and is the best segment out of the three, with physical comedy at its finest. Over the course of their adventure, Mump metamorphosizes into a tender-hearted man, who screams with grief upon almost losing Smoot. Obviously, despite their differences, the twosome is deficient without each other.

Photo by Ian Jackson

Photo by Ian Jackson

Directed by Karen Hines, Anything is a comic masterwork for the idiosyncratic characterization of Mump and Smoot. After 28 years of successful theatre performances, Kennard and Turner have mastered the art of clowning and arrayed every nuance of facial expression effectively. Another favourite feature of the work is its haunting and emotive music, composed by Greg Morrison, that dramatically exhibits an unearthly habitat.

However, the plethora of surreal skit comedy has few and far between elements of horror. Furthermore, the opening scene is unamusing and fails to bring much laughter, but the plot’s framework builds up gradually with improvised interactions which hook the audience. In verbal absurdities and physical slapstick, the show is bonkers—but also fascinating. The performance is like the game Cards Against Humanity; fishing for amusement amongst the nonsense.

 

Mump and Smoot in Anything runs until May 6, at The Cultch. Tickets for remaining performances can be found here.

Photo by Ian Jackson

Photo by Ian Jackson