A 20thC Lifesize Painted Plaster & Silk Theatre Prop Model of an Acrobatic Clown by Mark Thompson

Origin: English
Period: Late-20thC
Provenance: Doctor Dolittle, London Apollo Theatre
Date: c.1998
Height: 58"
Depth: 31”
Width: 48” (all approximate and at extremities)

The unique and expertly crafted life-size theatre prop of an androgynous acrobatic clown with  auburn bunned hair, hand painted in composition plaster, fibreglass and multi-coloured silks, the whole hanging from a large orange hoop, with a white painted face with red and black highlights to a ruffled collar and yellow and blue and red harlequin outfit with raspberry pom poms to a painted pink and white striped undergarment and red pump shoes, the whole surviving from the 1998 theatre production of Doctor Dolittle, set designed by Mark Thompson.

Remaining in good overall condition with no replacement parts overpainting or repairs, there is simply wear and chipping to the paint which is very minor commensurate with its 24 years of age and some very small tarnishes and stains to the clothing. The hoop is in metal so it can be hung with confidence.

In 1998, the Jim Henson Company co-produced the London West End musical production of Doctor Dolittle, based on the 1967 movie. Most of the the Henson Company's involvement was in the creation of the nearly one hundred animatronic animals created for the show, including a five-foot tall snail, a seal, dog, monkey, horse, pig, and the most famous of the show, the Pushmi-pullyu. The show starred Phillip Schofield as the Doctor who could "Talk to the Animals.

Prominent set and costume designer Mark Thompson’s work in the theatre has been recognised with two Critics’ Circle, five Olivier awards and nominated for seven Tony awards. His productions for the London West End and Broadway include God of Carnage (Ralph Fiennes), Bombay Dreams, Art (with Tom Courtney, Albert Finney, Ken Stott), La Bête (with Mark Rylance), One Man, Two Guvnors (with James Cordon), The Blue Room (with Nicole Kidman).

His iconic production of Alan Bennett’s The Wind in the Willows was a National Theatre favourite that was brought back for several years. His other theatrical credits include productions at the Royal Court Theatre, The Bridge, The National Theatre. He has also worked in the most prominent opera houses across the world, including the MET, La Scala, Sydney Opera House and the Royal Opera House. After the success of the stage show of The Madness of George III at the National Theatre, Mark went on to design costumes for the film The Madness of King George, directed by Nicholas Hytner.

This extraordinary showstopper is of course not for everyone…. but if it is for you, then, well, it really is quite something else.