FORGET all those jokes that begin How Many Whatevers Does It Take To Change A Light Bulb?

Globe-trotting Wolfe Bowart, international master of physical theatre, went far further on Tuesday: he took 70 magical minutes to relight the darkened Moon when the lunar bulb had gone out… and he alone was responsible for finding the all-important replacement.

So began a very strange night, the night of LaLaLuna, when the struggles of the moon’s caretaker made your reviewer revise his opinion that all clowns are just plain irritating. Out went the frown for the clown, in came admiration for the sustained brilliance of a whimsical show written and performed by Bowart with such joy and wonder.

The little chap battling solo against the world has long been a comic staple, be it Charlie Chaplin or Lee Evans, Harold Lloyd or Mr Bean, and Wolfe Bowart’s loon-in-the-moon act was on a par with the best. In skull cap, star-specked blue pyjamas and red socks, he cut an immediately humorous figure, at once cheeky yet lugubrious with ever-mobile eyes.

He may have been performing a one-man show, but he still filled the main-house stage as he went about his surreal theatrical journey by interweaving clowning and circus skills with theatre in the Samuel Beckett mode and expressionist film that turned a sheet on a washing line into a mirror.

Gesture was more important than language in his comic repertoire, and the surprise interjections were a regular source of laughter, whether Bowart was plucking a boy from the stalls to be his naughty partner in comedy, or battling with a profusion of misbehaving, flying white hares, or using a wind machine to send a loo roll spiralling over the audience.

Best of all was the moment he “clambered” inside a giant, see-through bouncing balloon, switched on his torch in the darkness and proceeded to perform a series of shadow-puppet routines with his hands. Breathtaking in every way.