If you go down to the woods today you're sure for a big surprise: the many, many definitions of the truth. Greg Freeman's allegorical comedy follows two honest teddy bears, Ludovic and Julius, who, after witnessing an act of auto-erotic asphyxiation gone horribly wrong, must learn to lie or be blamed and face death as a consequence.
Struggling to become flexible with the truth, they encounter Greta, a doll obsessed by the self-deception of trying to look younger, and an oleaginous, totalitarian clown who manipulates the bears for his own political purposes.
Gleefully bizarre, 'No Picnic' is a devastating look at the perceptions and deceptions through which we view ourselves and others; it demonstrates that, in a world where we all pretend, truth and reality are very fluid concepts. Freeman cleverly plays on the similarities between politics and clowning – the art of controlling your environment. Rhys King's performance as the clown carries a razor-sharp sickness and his ruff of newspapers adds an extra layer of relevance to an already hard hitting show.
'No Picnic' might struggle to dominate a larger stage, and the scenery, while pleasantly quaint, is at times distractingly awkward. Regardless, this masterfully realised black comedy from the mad magician of fringe theatre worked on the night: on its own turf 'No Picnic' is unquestionably a feast.
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