nytheatre.com review by Ishah Janssen-Faith
October 7, 2007
I'll go out on a limb here and say that everyone has a different idea of "what clown is." There are many boxes to put them in—circus, complete with red nose and baggy pants; idiotic; funny; sad; slapstick; scary—and everyone wants to be able to define this ancient art form, to put it in one box or another. Well I say hats off to Moving Target for refusing to be defined. This show really lives up to its name, being hard to pin down, hard to get your hands or head around. Flam St. Cyr is at once disarming, engaging, charming, vulnerable, and true to herself. The moments I laughed were when she got so specifically personal it became universal—like when she painted the vivid picture of her jazz-buff ex-beau, or when she ran down the list of things she "should do" to make her life better. These are things that are so specific to her but at the same time any one of us can relate to on a visceral, necessary level. I tended to lose her on the more philosophical, esoteric, abstract threads of thought and wondered why they were included. But even while pontificating on the way of the world and health care for instance, she remained charming, retained a connection with the audience, and stayed engaging.
What the show is "about": I'm going to err on the side of "it doesn't matter" with a little "I don't know" thrown in for good measure. There's not a plot, not a lot happens, but that never bothered me. What we see is a woman trying to grapple with life using only what she has been given—her pet cat, an old radio, and her imagination. That's quite enough of a show for me.
The design elements, contrary to the definition of clown, do fit neatly into a box. It is a minimal, low-tech aesthetic, but it suits the show to the tee and still manages to surprise us. The beautiful and lively costuming by Kate Moir evokes simultaneously a slightly deranged woman and a grand dame of the stage—a fitting mashup for this character if ever I saw one.
Erin Bouvy and Sue Morrison have created a show that seamlessly moves between the many boxes within the world of clown. She has moments of silly slapstick with her cat, she has poignant moments with the audience, she has ranting raves to the air, she does paint her face and wear a red nose. She also drifts very certainly into the world of buffoon—that world where one lone person on stage tells us, the audience, how the world really is, all the while with a smile on their face and a joke in their eyes. Very few performances I've seen can move so easily between all these worlds. I only hope no one tries to pin down this Moving Target.