The floor at The Tigerface Show was littered with cardboard. On one side of the performance area was a plastic slide and on the other a colourful tree. A girl in a top hat, brandishing a net, collected childhood dreams written on scraps of paper. On a projected backdrop ran a continuous stream of words, in front of which stood a man in a tiger costume holding a sign that said: ‘what is happening?’ A gentleman in the small audience responded and inadvertently became the narrator for the first 20 minutes of the show while Tigerface ran around and interacted with various soft animals. So, what was happening? I hadn’t a clue. And it remained that way for what became a very long hour.
Kudos to actor and creator Justin Teddy Cliffe (the titular Tigerface), who filled the stage with energy even though he wasn’t feeling well. And it wasn’t his talent that came to be called into question but the strength of the material: Links to mental health were tenuous and the show felt like children’s entertainment but without the necessary subtext to keep adults amused. The narrative storyline was disjointed and the scene involving worm sex bizarre, to say the least. Was this supposed to be funny? Some audience members, who must have been on the right wavelength, thought so.
The last 10 minutes focused on ambitions. Tigerface looked forlorn as he conveyed the message that childhood aspirations are futile because, more often than not, they come to nothing. I waited for the ‘but’ that would put a positive spin on things… but there wasn’t one.
What’s The Role of Theatre in a Modern Wales?
Buzz Culture is bringing key voices together to find out.
A paper was picked out of the net and one lucky Studio attendee at Newport’s Riverfront had his wish fulfilled. He was taken backstage and immerged as a foil and sticky-tape astronaut. We were all told to clap and cheer and be happy for him because his childhood dream had come true.
The Tigerface Show was billed as a comedy “that aimed to help adults rediscover child-like happiness in adulthood” but I left feeling rather depressed.
The Studio, Riverfront, Newport, Thurs 21 & Fri 22 Oct. Info: here.
Words LYNDA NASH
Looking for something to do?
The Ultimate Guide to What’s on in Wales!