Courtney Pauroso’s clown-play Gutterplum is a lifetime squeezed into an hour. It is about womanhood, sexuality and love throughout a person’s life, delivered in clown-style, sometimes burlesque-like form, that adds up to an overall sweet and enjoyable, yet sometimes distastefully vulgar show.
In the beginning, Courtney transforms into Italian pasta-lover Dale Ravioli, a cute, buzzing, nerdy little girl, playing with a huge yoga ball and selecting her new best friend from the audience, a man who is going to emerge from Dale’s best playmate with whom she plays leapfrog and piggy-back to her life-long love, reuniting again and again during her lifetime and growing old together. Therefore, the unaware man from the audience’s role is going to seriously determine the show’s flow, a bold move from Pauroso. Last night’s Adam lived up to the role perfectly, no matter how confused and nervous. Pauroso walks the audience through her adolescence, young adulthood, married life and old age, centring around sexuality in every age, which gives the opportunity for a mature and emotional show without necessarily taking away from the fun, but her clown-act gives a different tone to the performance, even with the particular style, unfulfilling the potential of the topic. The plenty of nudity and frankness about sexuality, however, makes the audience (or yesterday’s particular audience) awkward sometimes, unsure about what reactions to give. The attempt to break taboos around sex is in the centre of so many Fringe shows, however, Gutterplum’s vulgar approach is definitely a divisive aspect for the audience, with some finding it hilarious, some outrageous.
The show has endlessly enjoyable, precious moments. Pauroso over-acts clichés, but gives adorable presence to little Dale Ravioli, trying to make sense of the world, being annoying but oh-so loveable. Teenage and young adult Dales are just as annoying but entertaining, the awkward relationship towards The Man (Adam, this time) is sweet and, given that the purpose of her acting was a caricature, surprisingly realistic. Pauroso sings ‘I Don’t Know How To Love Him’ from Jesus Christ Superstar, one of history’s most iconic rock-opera songs, and her voice is strong and beautiful, filling up the room without any added audio.
Overall, Gutterplum and Courtney Pauroso are a largely enjoyable, silly, yet quite divisive combination. She, as a comedian, is undeniably great, her improvisation skills worth all the credit, as she played along with the audience and her yesterday’s significant other, and the endless tricks she can do with a yoga-ball are truly impressive. This hour is fun, and even with (or because of) all its flaws, definitely memorable.
Courtney Pauroso: Gutterplum is on at Underbelly, Cowgate – Iron Belly (Venue 61)
Runs until 25th August, 21:40