Clown Bar: In brief
Prolific playwright and blogger Adam Szymkowicz adds to the growing subgenre of dark-edged clown-themed theater with this look at a reformed mirth maker who falls back into clowning after the death of his brother. Andrew Neisler directs a site-specific production at the atmospheric Box, with music by Adam Overett.
Clown Bar: Theater review by Raven Snook
So a dozen clowns walk into a bar, and the ensuing punch lines are as plentiful and varied as a pack of Bozos exploding out of a circus car. The fevered brainchild of playwright Adam Szymkowicz, this Pipeline Theatre Company hit from last season is enjoying an encore engagement. The remounted Clown Bar makes great use of the Box nightclub’s retro yet seedy atmosphere as clown turned cop Happy (virile deadpan master Shane Zeigler) reenters the ’30s-style gangster clown underground to find out who murdered his drug-addicted jester brother, Timmy (played in flashbacks by Dan Tracy, totally tweaking out). During his investigation, Happy mixes it up with his old cohorts—all the usual hard-boiled noir archetypes, only in whiteface and brightly colored wigs: femme-fatale burlesquer Blinky (the comely Claire Rothrock), wisecracking sidekick Petunia (the very funny Jessica Frey) and merciless crime boss Bobo (played by understudy Gianmarco Soresi at the performance attended).
The humor is, unsurprisingly, mostly lowbrow: Clowns bleed glitter when shot, the striptease routine features balloons that pop, and double entendres abound, especially during the too-long preshow starring comic crooner Dusty (unflappable MC Salty Brine, seemingly the love child of a Paul Lynde, Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey in Cabaret threeway). But if you’re in a goofy mood (downing a couple of cocktails should help), Clown Bar delivers more yuks than yawns, thanks to a committed cast that eschews camp in favor of characterization, no matter how groanworthy the gag.—Theater review by Raven Snook