Witnessing the facets of Puddles Pity Party emerge is a bit like watching the riders tumble out of a clown car – just when you think that’s it, another one materialises.
Star rating: ****
Venue: Assembly George Square Gardens (Venue 3)
First, there’s his appearance: hulking, sad Pierrot with a jaunty bum’s crown. Then his physicality: mute, hesitant continence punctuated by fidgety compulsions, such as checking the pompoms on his costume or munching on gum.
Then his voice: a deep, rich, extraordinary thing of warmth and yearning that sounds like it’s been beamed in from the airwaves of the 1950s whether he’s singing Buddy Holly, David Bowie or Twenty One Pilots. Then his videos: witty compilations cleverly counterpointing the songs that comprise archive material, Hollywood output and images of Puddles fandom. Then his masterful audience interaction: the way he zeroes in on volunteers for a series of absurd assignments, from karaoke to a coffee break, with each of them working not to humiliate but to celebrate and build connection.
It’s this sense of connection that binds the whole party together. There’s so much to enjoy in the show on an immediate level – the terrific wordless clown work that makes a meal out of the simplest things, the enveloping voice that makes Adele’s Hello sound like it really does come from the other side, the juxtaposition of videos of flailing technology with a song about emotional damage – that it’s easy to overlook the web of togetherness that’s being spun around us all the while. Its strands link the performer to the audience but they also link those present with those at one remove – the fans who have taken photos with Puddles or posed pets in miniature versions of his hat – and those further afield, from movie stars to past generations. Puddles Pity Party might start with alienated awkwardness but it ends with hugs.
Until 29 August. Tomorrow: 7:25pm.