Tatterdemalion is an outstanding example of its genre. Henry Maynard is the sole performer and shows tremendous skill in the physical, clowning and mime nature of the show.

TatterdemalionClown, mime and physical comedy.

Tatterdemalion opened its current season at Wilton’s Music Hall last night. Created and performed by Henry Maynard, the artistic director of Flabbergast Theatre, Tatterdemalion has had a long and illustrious past at festivals and competitions.

Maynard is a master of his art and a joy to watch. Without speaking a single coherent word he encourages the audience to play along and they respond with enthusiasm. In one memorable scene Maynard goes into the audience, places a chaff bag round the neck of a man, encourages him to whinny before sitting on his lap and riding him like a horse. In another scene there is comic physical hi-jinks as an audience member assists Maynard in putting on his boots.

The show is a series of skits that vary in delivery, style and mood. After hitting heights of hilarity with outrageous clown work, the mood is evened out to a pensive and thought provoking feel. A highlight of the softer moments was a puppetry scene with a shirt that was empty except for the arms of the performer. It was one of those moments where the puppet is truly the focal character of the scene with an entirely independent persona. Therein lies the magic.

TatterdemalionThe design of the show is simple and centres round an old packing trunk with plenty of drawers and shelves to house revelations. A tatterdemalion is defined as being ‘ragged and disreputable in appearance’ and the overall design ethos fits this brief well. There is charm in the dishevelment.

Supporting this design is a simple lighting plot and a more complex sound track. Both of these elements work well in setting the mood.

Whilst the premise of Tatterdemalion is quite thin, and the flow between segments often abrupt, the overall piece engages and entertains the audience. A through line narrative would be a welcome addition.

Outstanding skill though.