Bolster and Lee: The Knock 'Em Downs - Brisbane Festival

‘Bolster & Lee: The Knock ‘Em Downs’ // Brisbane Festival

‘Bolster & Lee: The Knock ‘Em Downs’ was engaging.

Welcome to The Sideshow! Situated just down from the Soutbank Piazza and among the BOQ Festival Garden, this curious little striped circus tent is emblazoned in big bold letters with “Bolster & Lee” and “Knock ‘Em Downs”. 

Inviting audiences into the tent, ‘Bolster & Lee: The Knock ‘Em Downs’ is a comically interactive and visually engaging trip back in time to the side shows of old. Created by the team of Clint Bolster and Annie Lee who became creative collaborators in 2004, this dynamic duo uses their strong rapport to develop characters and play in performance. Using their individual differences, like height, sex and age, (37 and 62 years old) to particular advantage, Bolster and Lee have created characters that are warm and relatable in their endearing nature, yet curiously distinctive in their imposing eccentricities and outlandishly powerful sense of the ridiculousness.

Before stepping inside the noisy, colourful tent, visitors are given two admit-one tickets by the Ringmaster, who cheerfully explains “one for each clown”. Once inside, the audience is prepared to experience a variety of crazy carnival-inspired games hosted by two miserable “carnies turned clowns” named Krackers ‘n Jam. These two characters like nothing more than to fool you. Their demeanour is hilarious as they silently get audiences to participate, and it’s clear that nothing is quite as it appears. Bells ring and lights flash on and off as participants win prizes, horns blare at unexpected events, and a phone rings at the most inopportune moment  The look and feel inside this intimate space is quite unique and the production is inspired by sideshow alley games, except with Krackers ‘n Jam these games have been given a slight twist, which gives the whole experience a spooky vibe. 

Bolster and Lee are both consummate performers in character work, mime, improvisation and clowning. If John Cleese had kids with Lucille Ball, the results might just be Bolster and Lee.

This spontaneous and amusing carnival show is well worth the time to wait in line to participate. Not to mention, it’s free! Suitable for all ages, don’t miss this oddball encounter guaranteed to make you laugh.

‘Bolster & Lee: The Knock ‘Em Downs’ is a free event performed at various times until Saturday, 24 September 2022 as part of the Brisbane Festival. For more information, visit the Brisbane Festival website.

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