New play by clown school graduate theatre company hits Camden Fringe

Adventures of Tracey Tracey

Adventures of Tracey Tracey - Credit: Archant

‘Adventures of Tracey Tracey’ at Camden Comedy Club is a one-woman tragi-comedy combining clowning and physical comedy.

What comes to mind when you think of clowns? A squeaky red nose? Perhaps a pair of comically large shoes. Or a water squirting lapel flower, maybe.

This image is enough to make any coulrophobe (that’s someone with a fear of clowns) recoil in horror.

Thankfully the clowning takeover that has struck this year’s Camden Fringe Festival is slightly more low-key. According to experts, there’s more to clowning than tweaking noses and terrifying children at birthday parties – I’m talking to you, Chuckles.

There are a few clown shows coming to this year’s Fringe festival, from Marga Villalonga’s ‘The Daughter of Albert Einstein’ at the Rabbit Hole in Hampstead, to Catherine Waller’s slightly more sinister comedy ‘The Creeps’ at the Etcetera Theatre on Camden High Street.

‘Adventures of Tracey Tracey’ by Bezoomny Theatre is another such performance.

Showing at the Camden Comedy Club, ‘Adventures of Tracey Tracey’ is a one-woman tragi-comedy about a shy and awkward but loveable outsider, combining clowning and physical comedy.

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The character of Tracey Tracey was created a year ago at the theatre and clown school, Ecole Philippe Gaulier in France, explains Madeleine Bye, co-writer and director of the show.

Written in tandem with classmate Nicola Cross, who takes on the character of Tracey Tracey, the show adopts the techniques taught by clown-master Philippe Gaulier, namely the concept of ‘le jeu’.

’Le jeu’ is the idea that all theatre is a game played between the actors. The process of writing the show involved breaking down the story into a series of games.

Bye describes this technique as the “opposite of text heavy theatre”.

“Words and clever jokes are almost the last thing you think of in this type of work.

“I think before Gaulier, we’d have sat down at a laptop and tried to think up clever things and funny puns.

“Gaulier is very much about impulse and play and being in the moment.

“We don’t even have a script for this piece! Just game after game after game!”

Fond of the character of Tracey Tracey, Bye describes her as coming from a place within everyone that feels unimportant and a bit lost.

“It’s an interesting process to expose what you think is so personal to you to an audience and have it be recognised as a universal feeling.

“We’re all quite similar and scared deep down, I think. But I’m obviously not exactly the same as Tracey, or I’d never be able to get on a stage!”

It’s unusual to hear of a character existing before and outside of the play but according to Bye, Tracey Tracey had some strange beginnings, created as part of Philippe Gaulier’s character class and developed in cabarets in Paris and Berlin.

“Philippe wanted Nicola to feel like ‘the worst student in the school’ to get humility out of the character.

He also brought out Tracey’s lustful side and kept getting her to kiss all the men in the workshop with this fake brace covering her teeth!”

Well, after that it’s certainly not hard to see how Tracey turned out awkward and shy.

‘Adventures of Tracey Tracey’ shows at the Camden Comedy Club on August 13-14.

Tickets available at