Posted in 1-hander, clowning, comedy

Who’s an “oxymoron” now?

MoronRobert Dubac seems to be bent on making the most of silliness in the shortest possible time. In The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron, at Urban Stages through April 16th, he tackles a dozen characters in 80 minutes, while (we are told) drinking a beer. Impressive!

The hilarity starts at the flyer (see stage left illustration.) A comedy so funny, they named it twice– The Book of Moron is also  The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron

For more information, please visit http://urbanstages.org/  and to get tickets, click here.

Posted in Bill Irwin, clowning, clowns, comedy, David Shiner, Nellie McKsy, pantomime, slapstick

Nothing "old hat" about "Old hats"

There are times when there is nothing better than to be proven wrong. Pantomime and slapstick are two genres of comedy that have always left this reviewer unimpressed.

“Old Hats,” at Signature Theatre’s new Pershing Square Signature Center,  already extended through April 14th,  is a hilarious array of vignettes which tickled every funny bone in my body.

Photo by Gregory Costanzo. Bill Irwin and David  Shiner in “Old Hats,” directed by Tina Landau
and featuring Nellie McKay.

David Shiner and Bill Irwin are the brilliant clowns and playwrights for this original theater piece. Nellie McKay contributes her skills as narrator, music director, composer, pianist, cellist and ukeleist to the entertainment. Nellie McKay sings and dances, to the able accompaniment of her band of merry men–
Alexi david on bass, Mike Dobson on percussions, Tivon Pennicott playing sax and flute, and Kenneth Salters on drums and assisting as the bartender in the “Cowboy Cinema” segment of “Old Hats.”

There is foolishness a plenty, and audience participation, in the above mentioned “Cowboy Cinema” and in the marvellous “A Magic Act,” for which Irwin gets to don a dress and show off his legs.

“Old Hats” will appeal to even the curmudgeons among us, as attested to by my delight in the program.

For more information about “Old Hats,” please  visit www.signaturetheatre.org/

Posted in clowning, mime, multi-media

The Best of Edinburgh brings us "LEO"

Can something be both claustrophobic and celebratory?

A man, a hat, and a suitcase shown live in a very small box-like room on stage and again on a screen so that the effect is a split set, are the makings of “LEO,” created by Circle of Eleven based on an idea and performed by Tobias Wegner.

“LEO,” is the wordless theater piece The Carol Tambor Theatrical Foundation presents at the Clurman on Theatre Row through February 5th, as The Best of Edinburgh.

Tobias Wegner performs in “LEO,” created by Circle of Eleven Photo © Heiko Kalmbach

“LEO” offers a riff on Fred Astaire, Houdini and Laurel and Hardy.

On the screen, the lounging character, is standing against a wall in his tiny room. In “LEO” the hero, whether upright or supine, literally climbs the walls, uses strength and agility to adapt to his surroundings, and ingenuity to ultimately escape.

Tobias Wegner performs in “LEO,” created by Circle of Eleven Photo © Andy Phillipson / livewireimage

The concept– by Wegner–, design– set and lighting by Flavia Hevia and video by Heiko Kalmbach– are cleverly executed with whimsy and wit.

“LEO” relies on the diverse cultural sensibility for Sinatra tunes and cartoons for its humor and charm. If it were a tad shorter it would be perfect.

Photo © Andy Phillipson / livewireimage

See a video of “LEO” at circleofeleven.de

Photo © Heiko Kalmbach

For a schedule of performances, please visit theatrerow.org

Posted in clowning, comedy, juggling, pantomime, romance

Throwing her voice, or throwing apples, either way, beguiling

It’s all about love and juggling!

Perfect Catch,billed as “Throw-mantic Comedy” at Canal Park Playhouse through November 27th, follows the formula set by Hollywood for romantic comedies. Boy and girl meet, but they don’t really like each other and, then suddenly, something happens to spark an interest, and finally, they are in the throes of an endearing love.

Jen Slaw and Michael Karas are jugglers who conduct their romance in near-complete silence, except for a timeless soundtrack. The pop 40s, some of them from the 40s, include some wonderfully quirky renditions of the standards like “Mister Sandman,” “It Had to Be You,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “9 to 5” and “Fernando’s Hideaway.”

The juggling umbrellas set to “Singing in the Rain” create a little peril for our lovely duo, he a little nerdy, she poised and glamorous.

Meanwhile, Nina Conti does an altogether different brand of throwing.
She is a world renowned ventriloquist enjoying her United States debut in “Nina Conti Talk to the Hand” at 59E59 Theaters in the Brits Off Broadway festivities for one week only through November 13th.

Nina Conti with her several character puppets has won awards for comedy from the BBC and the Barry Comedy Award at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

Be warned, this is not a child-friendly show. Not that there’s anything wrong with children. You may want to keep them away from the X-rated shenanigans of Monkey. Nina Conti is attractive and charming, and has a disarming way of laughing at the jokes she is about to tell through her puppets.

For more information on “Perfect Catch” go to www.canalparkplayhouse.com
For tickets for “Nina Conti Talk to the Hand” visit www.59e59.org or BritsOffBroadway.com

Posted in beets, carrots, clowning, clowns, comedy, Eugene O'Neil, juggling, mime, offbeat work, onions, playing with food, skits, stage directions, vegetables

Actors’ Revenge and Other Clowning

Eugene O’Neill (“The Iceman Cometh,” “Long Day’s Journey into Night,” “Mourning Becomes Electra” etc.)is not known for inspiring chuckles but the New York Neo-Futurists (Neos) know how to get guffaws out of tough material.

In fact, you might think of “The Complete & Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O’Neill Volume One: Early Plays/Lost Plays,” at The Kraine Theatre through extended to October 1st, 8th as the actor’s revenge on a playwright loath to allow anyone to mess with his vision. It is said that O’Neill would have preferred to have his plays just read, not acted, and his elaborate stage directions suggest an obsessive desire to micro-manage all aspects in the performance of his work.

With “The Complete & Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O’Neill Volume One: Early Plays/Lost Plays,” the Neos continue the tradition they started in the mid ’90s of “embracing chance, change and chaos.”

The cast, six enactors, — Danny Burman, Brendan Donaldson, Cara Francis, Connor Kalista (not pictured,) Erica Livingston, and Lauren Sharpe, –and
a narrator, Jacquelyn Landgraf (also not pictured), are inventive and lively.

Photo © Anton Nickel  

“The Complete & Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O’Neill Volume One: Early Plays/Lost Plays,” adapted and directed by Christopher Loar, compiled from seven early O’Neill works, features narrated stage directions which lead the ensemble to scramble, reassemble props, strike poses, fall onto seats, and make their exits.

There is no O’Neill script for the Neos to follow, but they elicit hysterical laughter while depicting O’Neill’s descriptions of action, character (in both senses of the word.)

The cast entertain by making nuanced adjustments to capture expressions, gestures, even sighs. “The Complete & Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O’Neill Volume One: Early Plays/Lost Plays” is exhilirating and giddy.

For more on “The Complete & Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O’Neill Volume One: Early Plays/Lost Plays,” and the Neos work, please visit http://www.nyneofuturists.org/
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The Other Clowning: Jaime Carswell and Nancy Trotter Landry, under the direction of Pablo Ibarluzea are “Cirque De Legume

It’s the leeks, carrots, beets, onions, artichoke, lettuce and hot peppers that give these circus artists, Jaime Carswell and Nancy Trotter Landry, their name. They are “Cirque De Legume!”

Cirque De Legume,” at 59E59 Theaters, as part of the citywide 1st Irish Festival, through October 2nd, hail from London by way of Paris’ respected “clown school”–Ecole Jacques Lecoq. Jaime Carswell and Nancy Trotter Landry enter to rollicking big tent music and great fanfare.

Photo © Mark Fearon  

After their big entrance, they seem ill-at-ease, and the rest of the performance is dedicated to challenging the audience. “How about that?” is their refrain after every trick. “Cirque De Legume” ise delicious slight-of-hand, and acrobatics in their successful effort to please the crowd.
They add a sports metaphor to their routine when she spells out C-I-R-Q-U-E… and they bump chests.

Training a barking lettuce named “Dusty” to jump for a carrot is just the opening number in this manic and charming show.

Visit www.59E59.org
for a schedule of performances. Also see what else is taking place during the 1st Irish Festival at http://www.1stirish.org/