The Mr and Mrs Clark Medicine Show

Mr and Mrs Clark are a Welsh physical theater cabaret act whose repertoire includes The Medicine Show, in which they wear macabre makeup and attempt to cure members of the audience of their everyday ailments.

Medicine Show Mr and Mrs Clark

Their real names are Gareth Clark and Marega Palser, who really is Mrs Clark offstage as well as on. Here’s what she looks like without the makeup:

Medicine Show Marega without makeup

And, just for fun, here she is appearing in a different show for the National Theatre of Wales in 2010:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Medicine Show, which premiered in 2011, is a mix of music, comedy and stylized movement in which Mrs Clark wears a rather abbreviated skirt and often bends down to change her shoes, revealing her purple panties. One lady reviewer mentioned disliking this feature of the show, but the Clarks themselves have said that, when they do publicity appearances, the bending over routine is what seems to attract the greatest interest and enthusiasm from passers by!

Medicine Show Edinburgh Fringe 2012 fMedicine ShowMedicine Show Edinburgh Fringe 2012 c

Medicine Show Edinburgh Fringe 2012 hSONY DSC

One of the highlights of the show is a ballet-style routine which seems to be a struggle between husband and wife for possession of some pamphlets (wryly entitled ‘Acrobatics for Beginners’): they start with one each, but she takes his, he takes them both from her, and she tries everything to get them back. The things keep changing hands (and sometimes mouths too), until they finish up back where they began. In the course of the routine the couple interact with one another in a series of improbably athletic poses, until towards the end he spanks her.

Here’s a performance at Newport in South Wales:

Medicine Show 2012 Newport

And here they are doing it at the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe Festival:

Medicine Show Edinburgh Fringe 2012 aMedicine Show Edinburgh Fringe 2012 b

You have to approach the show, and the spanking scene, with the right expectations. It is a piece of performance art, not a play with a developed narrative. It works through the deliberate stylization and concentration of what it represents, which means it’s probably best avoided if you’re someone who believes it’s not a spanking if no smacks are seen to land. At one point there is a moment when she’s crawling between his legs but stops halfway through, and he gives her a quick smack on the bottom to encourage her through. But the spanking itself is not represented literally but as a ballet tableau: the dancers, in effect, make a still picture with their bodies. That doesn’t mean it’s ‘not a spanking’: in fact, Mrs Clark herself said that one of the Edinburgh photos shows her getting ‘a good skelp’ (Scottish for a good spanking). It’s simply portraying the spanking using a different artistic medium.

One performance was filmed with a cameraphone and can be seen on youtube. I suggest watching it on fullscreen, not to enhance the quality but to cut out the various surrounding items of irrelevant youtubery. In truth, the quality of the recording is terrible and the viewing angle is not ideal, but still it is the only film I have been able to find which shows the ballet routine on stage: click here.  (The smack is at 20.45 and the spanking at 22.05.)

But there is also a behind the scenes video with much better quality and a much better angle which lets you see the expression on Mrs Clark’s face as she is put across her husband’s knee: click here. (The link is timed to cut in at the spanking tableau; go back to 6.15 if you want to see the smack too.)

Applause then, please, for Mr and Mrs Clark!

Medicine Show Edinburgh Fringe 2012 e

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s