Kaput, Strut & Fret and Tom Flanagan – review

Kaput is a lovable show that is a tribute to the silent film era. It was created and performed by world-renowned Australian actor as well as Tom Tom Club long-time veteran Tom Flanagan.

Flanagan’s Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin’s influence is an impressive one. The show is completely performed without Flanagan speaking. The show is born conceptually from the simple idea that was perfected by his two predecessors, who put a likable character in a predicament of no consequence and watched him struggle to control his surroundings.

In Kaput, the likable character is a young and enthusiastic silent movie projectionist whose simple purpose of displaying a film in front of a projection screen gets thwarted by a malfunction in his erratic projector. A heart of gold and ineffective spatial reasoning drive Flanagan’s character to ever more desperate efforts to fix his equipment so as not to be able to show his audience the film they’ve been promised.

Chaos, naturally, is the result as A flat-capped Flanagan is battling with ladders tables made of trestle, other parts of faulty machinery, and a growing collection of stage junk, accompanied by a keyboardist who contributes hilarious muzak that serves as a musical commentary on the tragedy while it plays out. Flanagan’s trademark leaps and tumblings are there. However, it’s the tricks, like twists and turns with an explosive roll of sticky tape, that show the actor to be an outstanding performer and an original one.

With just one or two items of furniture for the stage that were modified for use by Flanagan, Kaput is essentially found-object clowning, with the vacuum cleaner being a popular star.

It’s a lot of fun, and by the time the clown in a panic begins to recruit the audience to help him sort out the chaos of his own making, The rapport between the actor and the audience has become so caring that participants need little assistance from Flanagan to jump into the mess.

One could argue that Flanagan’s primary medium here isn’t physical clowning so much as it’s the liveability of his well-meaning zeal, which is the main character of his narrative about clowns, which triggers the sequence of events that eventually leads to the destruction of the stage. It’s also the reason that makes it possible for Flanagan to be able to pull off hilarious adult humor while kids are present. This is a show categorized as family entertainment, not because it’s dumbed down but because it appeals to a variety of audiences simultaneously. Fun for the entire family members: Highly recommended.

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