PLAN C is a one-man variety show, an existential and absurd comic performance with a considerable dose of clowning and mime. Scandinavian functionalism meets French flair as our hero transforms between all kinds of characters, demons and other likely –or unlikely– figments of his imagination. Strung between freedom and necessity, each performance is unique in its more or less scripted improvisations…
I saw Caspar Schjelbred fight an empty room and win. There were about ten people in Fringe Bar’s cavernous 80-seat space on the night I saw Plan C, Schjelbred’s solo, improvised mime show. Without a defined narrative or throughline, the deck was stacked against him – Schjelbred started by asking the audience to call out provocations, to no response. But Schjelbred met the room on its level, responding to its nervous and timid energy. He worked in silence, showing us what he offered, then he asked again, for a single name. This time, he got one, and Schjelbred used it to create a character and a loose story, asking yes or no questions as he went. The resulting performance was so fluid and so in the moment, jumping from one scene to the next every five seconds or so in the most seamless and clever ways. Schjelbred’s form is so slick and practised that you get lost in the action, and his relationship with the audience is respectful and devoid of pressure. I saw Caspar Schjelbred fight an empty room and win, and I have all the time in the world for somebody willing to put in that fight with such craft and such skill.Source: The Pantograph Punch
Date of publication: 17.03.2016
Early evening at the Fringe Bar is Caspar Schjelbred, a Parisian Dane, with his Plan C – Le spectacle, c’est moi!Source: The Dominion Post
A physical mime artist, Schjelbred’s describes Plan C as an existentialist comedy and while it is obvious that much of the performance is improvised, there is still a structure, with set pieces using music to creatively underscore the action.
But there is no real through line to the pieces, each section unrelated to the one before or after and so, as with a lot of these types of work, it is a case of not trying to work out what is going on, but to just sit back and go along with the artistry and creativity of the performer, and to enjoy the humour.
And Schjelbred is certainly very confident with his style of performance, his physicality quite exceptional with the way he animates his topics through use of body language, facial expression and vocal sounds.
Often reminiscent of Mr Bean-type antics, the highlight of the show is when he caresses, peels, then eats a banana to the dramatic strains of a Maria Callas operatic aria.
Date of publication: 18.02.2016
Plan C is described by its Parisian-Danish creator Caspar Schjelbred as an “existential comedy”. Such a bold claim has me sceptical: will this be a self-indulgent solo piece trading on its European roots and the inherent raised status that Kiwis tend to give the shining jewels of imported theatre? I wonder whether this show might go against what I – rightly or wrongly – see as the kaupapa of Fringe: making space for a number 8 wire approach to theatre; the ‘why not put on Fringe show, mate?’ that my friends and I largely seem to approach it with.Source: New Zealand Theatre Review
And anyway, will the humour of mime and improvisation, which often relies so heavily on the performer being able to respond in a quick, quippy and topical way, work properly when filtered through a language barrier?
Unknown to him, as a European import, Caspar Schjelbred is going to have a job on his hands winning me over.
Schjelbred manages this gradually and skilfully. For a start he draws us in on the reason for the name of his show, allowing the audience an immediate connection with him. Plan C – perhaps also chosen for his first name initial – is the plan you make when your dream has failed; when business as usual has failed. Plan C is the moment you have no idea what could happen. He asks rhetorically: haven’t you all had a plan like that? A Plan C? Of course we know what he means and of course we have.
In this gentle way he begins to build a knowing relationship with his audience, creating the illusion that he is less in control of where we are headed than we know must be.
Although the disarming pace and tinny tone of his mash-up soundtrack does not serve his jokes all that well, his adept physical comedy hits the mark and induces sometimes hearty and sometimes uncomfortable laughter in his small but highly-engaged audience.
The ‘second-language-learner’ air of text book formality lends the show an extra charm and sense of character, despite occasionally leaving me needing an extra second or two to grapple with the intended meaning. His rapport with the audience stops the show from jarring too much at any particular point. He even manages to rescue himself from an audience offer that requires a knowledge of, and opinion about, New Zealand political figures.
Overall a delightfully sustained comedic hour that would only be enhanced by a larger audience who were committed to jumping aboard with Plan C just to see where it took them.
Date of publication: 18.02.2016