Thursday, May 31, 2012
As people filed into the Fringe Green Venue at the Rep Theater, Mark Jaster and Sabrina Mandell began to set up a movie screen. Mark walked off stage through a doorway and Sabrina followed with the screen. The screen slammed into the door frame stopping her. Together they struggled to set up the screen which was missing parts and seemed to resist their every effort. The screen crashed closed so loudly that I jumped in my seat. Finally with it set up and the audience in their seats, the film rolled. It was projected about four feet too high. Only a sliver of the image was on the top of the screen, but it lined up perfectly with the fabric screen already hanging at the back of the stage. Embarrassed, they put the home movie screen away.
On the Nose was part physical comedy and part documentary. The production took assumptions about clowns and turned them on their heads. Directed by Elena Day, the show redefined what a clown means world wide. In America, a clown is quickly associated with birthday parties with screaming children and twisted balloon animals. In Europe however, clowns are considered artists and are a respected form of adult entertainment. This reminds me of how animation is considered as children's fair in America, yet in Europe, it is a serious form of entertainment.
Interviews with female clowns were particularly insightful. It had been considered "unfeminine" for women to be funny. When Mark and Sabrina did a pie routine, a young boy in the audience shouted out his pleasure since he wanted to see a pie in the face. Sabrina leaned forward and said to Mark, "Pie me." The implied sexual connotations made it funny for adults, and the young boy was squirming and delirious with anticipation.
Sabrina put on an electronic helmet and was given a quiz to see if she could identify clowns. Ronald McDonald flashed on the screen. She guessed, "Clown" and she reacted to an electric shock given by Mark's remote control. Stephen Colbert flashed and she guessed, "Not a clown" shock again. He is a clown. The red nose was considered, the smallest mask by many of the clowns interviewed. This show was lively and very enlightening. Send in the clowns.