Theatre Review: The Long Pigs Assembly Roxy (Venue 139), Edinburgh

Coulrophobia is the name for a persistent and irrational fear of clowns.

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Whether many people can legitimately say they have it or not, there’s certainly a universal sense of childhood night terrors to seeing a particularly badly-performed clown show, as readers of Stephen King novels and Batman comics are well aware.

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Anyone who recognises the above sensation might be well advised to think twice about Australian companies WE3 and Cluster Arts’ The Long Pigs, for this is a clown show which is intended to unsettle; a physical theatre circus of grotesquery in which a trio of black-nosed butcher clowns inhabit a slaughterhouse for their insufferable red-nosed brethren.

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Directed by Susie Dee, clowns Clare Bartholemew, Mozes and Nicci Wilks give performances as darkly stylised as Anna Tregloan’s grimly monochrome set.

The mundanity of their grisly lives is enlivened for the audience by passages of outré physical theatre, including the deliberately half-hearted repeated routine involving a bicycle and a scary springing doll; the ‘birth’ scene involving a banana and one of the most banally evil-looking crucifixion scenes imaginable.

There are plenty of laughs to be had, although often they come accompanied by gritted teeth and an indefinable sense of nausea.

Until 25 August. Today 7:30pm