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

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
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.

for a schedule of performances. Also see what else is taking place during the 1st Irish Festival at