One of the hits of last year’s Los Angeles Fringe Festival was Four Clowns, conceived and written by Jeremy Aluma. The show won the Hollywood Fringe Award for Best Physical Theatre. I am used to seeing some clowning at almost any Sacred Fools presentation, but finding these four actors, Alexis Jones (Sad Clown), Kevin Klein (Mischievous Clown), Raymond Lee (Angry Clown), and Amir Levi (Nervous Clown), is a tribute to Aluma and his dedication to the Art of Clowning. Apparently there are several clown schools as such in the Southland as well as master teachers in Commedia del Arte. These are some of the best clowns I have seen around, and that includes clowns with Cirque du Soleil.
The performance is really a series of sketches about the modern family and today’s society. We see kids abused, used, and beaten, all the while trying to hold the family together: the housewife whose kids and husband are out of control, the teacher who molests his students, siblings trying to suppress each other. They do all this with immense good humor and an ability to throw care to the wind and jump into these sadistic routines with relish. Because they are clowns we can accept their antics, but don’t bring the little kids; violence and profanity prevail.
The whole affair has the appearance of improv, with clowns being assigned their parts for the various routines, I wonder if today’s abuser ever gets to play the victim, although the actors stay pretty true to their character type. The physical mastery of these four actors is a joy to watch. Not everything works but that may vary with each night’s audience.
After Los Angeles the troupe is traveling to the Minnesota Fringe and the San Francisco Fringe where I am sure they will do well. Then, they return to Los Angeles to present Romeo and Juliet through the eyes of these four clowns; that should be brutal and quite funny. A virtuoso pianist, Mario Granville, who played Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” before the show as well as some Scott Joplin, accompanies them throughout the evening. It will be interesting to see how they do when they have to to follow a story line.
Four Clowns plays on Fridays at Sacred Fools Theatre until June 10. Go!