Clown Play

Theater, Comedy
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Clown Play
Photograph: Paul David Young
Clown Play

The most memorable moment in Clown Play—let’s be honest: the only memorable moment—occurs when Ryan Barry, as a destitute mirthmaker driven to crime, flashes his privates to reveal a red clown nose on the head of his penis. If you’re like me, chances are you’ve never seen a penis with a red clown nose on its head, so there’s novelty value there. Jacques Lecoq, indeed! Otherwise, Paul David Young’s play does little to rescue clowning from the cultural stocks to which it’s been consigned. A pair of plainclothed clowns (Joel Reuben Ganz and Emily James) break into an abandoned McMansion to squat there; another (Barry) does the same in full whiteface, only to be confronted by a clown-loving sexpot (Marissa Molnar); and these scenes alternate with monologues in which a despairing woman (Carol Lee Sirugo) shares details of her uncharmed life. As directed by Robert Lutfy, the tone is all over the place—a scene about a rape victim is followed jarringly by goofy comic violence and seduction—and the performance styles vary distractingly. (Barry is likably low-key, while Molnar pushes hard enough for both of them.) The cast tries gamely, but their physical comedy isn’t sharp enough to cut this inchoate piece into shape.—Adam Feldman

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