There are many shows at FRINGE WORLD that live, or die, by the stagecraft of the performer; by smart social commentary; by exceptional feats of talent. Cam Venn - Charles Horse Lays an Egg is not one of them.
This is not to say that the artist behind this gem of modern, prop-based clowning isn’t talented by any means. Venn clearly knows his craft. He opens the show with conventional clowning techniques, gestural flourishes that warm the crowd effectively.
Throughout the performance, heavy use of audience participation is done skillfully and - you may be surprised at this, given the tone of show - with respect.
Venn’s use of space is fantastic. He knows his sight lines and uses them to great effect with a series of reveals designed to ripple shock and laughter through the crowd. It’s a subtle technique but just one of the elements on display demonstrating how skilled he is.
However, where this show makes an impact is through an the escalating model of pushing the boundaries of good taste.
One could expect that the full nudity listed in the content warning is the peak of this. It is not. The audience is instead exposed to an increasingly shocking hour of set pieces that push the admittedly simple narrative forward towards a conclusion that speaks to the heart of what fringe theatre can be.
Without revealing the plot, imagine – if you will – an episode of 1970s era Doctor Who if it were written by a team of acid-tripping fetishists. It’s science fiction that goes boldy where few, if any, FRINGE WORLD shows have gone before.
Cam Venn - Charles Horse Lays an Egg is a show that you could never see in an elitist, high-art setting, and it’s all the richer for being so. It’s also something you’ll rarely see in a rapidly changing festival lineup that is concerningly leaning further towards the conventional each year.
Based on the reaction of the crowd – riotous laughter culminating in a standing ovation by the show’s end – we’re ready for more. It’s unlikely we’ll ever see anything quite like this again.
Buy tickets from the FRINGE WORLD website.