The concept of a clown wedding might seem like the stuff of dreams if you’re naturally drawn to slapstick, buffoonery and general clown-ish shenanigans. But in Fool’s Paradise, Britt Plummer’s dream clown wedding isn’t exactly everything she hoped for. We’re greeted by the blushing bride on arrival, a suit and a white dress hanging hopefully in the background but fiancé Otto is nowhere to be seen. He’s on his way though, Plummer says nervously, and while we wait, she fills us in on their modern-day love story, the bad bits gradually drip fed through song, puppetry and physical theatre.
Fool’s Paradise is like a rom-com, if Covid, visa issues and long-distance were the big obstacles faced by the central characters. At one point, the couple are portrayed by two coffee cups, Plummer playfully acting out sex scenes by banging the cups together. A version of Otto also materialises through the combination of a mop head, microphone stand and said suit hanging in the background, and these interactions are genuinely touching.
Plummer, with direction from Jess Clough-MacRae, makes use of excellent physicality and elements of clowning to invite the audience into this relationship. We aren’t just wedding guests though, some of us drafted in as photographers, dressers, and flower girls – though never in a way that feels uncomfortable. Instead, we’re rooting for this bride from the get-go, the tension rising the longer she waits for Otto. Fool’s Paradise begins with a premise that feels innocent and silly but as Plummer draws us into her gentle storytelling, there’s a much more sombre message at its heart about the difficulties of maintaining connection and the obstacles that can be caused by bureaucracy and international borders.