Theatre review: Mump and Smoot produce guffaws from the heart

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Mump and Smoot have been touring the world charming and shocking audiences since 1986. Go see why.

These clowns (in photo right by Gary Mulcahey) are archetypical, but wholly unique. Smoot is low status happy, easily wounded but capable of petty revenge. Mump is high status incredulous, vicious but easily confused. They speak their own gibberish language and worship a god named Ummo. They also are gluttonous, play with severed limbs and there is often blood. But they are so cute.

Mump and Smoot have been touring the world charming and shocking audiences since 1986. Go see why.

Mump and Smoot have been touring the world charming and shocking audiences since 1986. Go see why. Photo by Gary Mulcahey.

The show, directed by Karen Hines, has a giddily threatening feel as they walk in from behind the audience with Smoot clutching Mump’s coat jacket tail in fear. They stop and interact with audience members as they squeeze past, but their curiosity and playfulness never feels mean spirited. Those audience members who do not get their attention may feel a sense of schadenfreude.

The show is made up of three short plays. In the delightfully childish and with a real sense of danger “The Café” is a fine dining experience that is sabotaged by a sinister waiter, played with wicked fun Candace Berliguette. In “The Wake”, the grief stricken duo find macabre joy at the funeral parlor which gradually gives way to shame and sadness, then terror. Mortality is further explored in “The Doctor” where a little role-play in a deserted doctor’s office leads to a dire diagnosis.

Smoot is John Turner and Mump is Michael Kennard and they are masters at their craft and their love of performing is apparent. Yes, they want to shock and make the audience squirm, but ultimately they want them to laugh. Keenly aware of what is going on around them, the show has an improvisational edge as they react and incorporate everything. It is near impossible to take your eyes off them as they generate such life and live in each moment of their performances.

If you are scared or worried, sit in the balcony or in the middle of a row, but for the full-on experience get over it and hope for some interaction. No one is maimed or humiliated, it’s all just a little chaos and anarchy (and a whole lot of fun). They also touch your heart and are vulnerable and sweet even as they end up with a fork stabbed in the head, eat a spider or saw a leg off.

Mump and Smoot create guffaws from the heart. My own guffaws were so hard at one point that I even lost my pen. Go see why.

Mump and Smoot in Something

Written and performed by John Turner and Michael Kennard. Directed by Karen Hines. On stage at The Cultch through June 2, 2013. Visit for tickets and information.

Click to Learn More About David C Jones

David C JonesDavid C. Jones is an arts lover and a critical thinker. He makes films, directs plays, teaches, is a professional emcee and writes for the OUTtv website and The Charlebois Post.

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