Help Help I Know This Title Is Long
nytheatre.com review by Ivanna Cullinan
September 6, 2006
At the start of this amiable one-man show by Drew, the Dramatic Fool, it seemed as if I'd wandered into a small-town circus between the acts. There is one industrious clown, a stage full of props, and a series of placards in place to tell who is up next to perform. But here's the rub: no one ever is up next in this show, because there evidently is a murderer within the circus and the only cast member left alive is this hapless but industrious clown. His task then becomes the classic clown exercise, "the show must go on, now fill the next (insert-a-given-time-frame) minutes!" In this case, the clown has all of the intended acts to fulfill and the ever-helpful placards on display to assist with what is coming next. Luckily these tasks are performed with charm and fun. All ages can enjoy this show; although it never quite seems as urgent as the above premise might suggest.
The struggles start early for our hero. Despite an engaging and inventive struggle with the curtains, he carries on. It turns out Drew will do anything, any thing, whatever the placards demand. He will do what comes up as long as it will entertain us and keep the showing going. As this willingness is established, a new problem arises: are these placards truly helpful when it becomes clear someone has been adding "Do or DIE" tasks to them? Yikes! He becomes a musician, resorting to balancing a yellow ukulele on his chin. He juggles, he spins hula-hoop fashion, he spins plates on sticks, decorates the stage and creates a puppet show. Even when evidence pops up in the oddest places, this clown keeps performing.
The variety and range of skills Drew exhibits in the show are impressive and amusing. He has warmth and is pleasant with the audience. There is a high level of skill throughout, but I was never quite as excited as I wanted to be by the show. It may have been that although the premise of the show (directed by Avner the Eccentric) is clear, the stakes are set high before I knew or cared who the clown was. Perhaps a bit more time with Drew, and realizing the potential danger he is in at the same time he does, would have encouraged more engagement from me. Also, it is never clear who the murderer is, and a potential red herring is introduced midway through on the placards, which doesn't help at all. Is our clown hunted or haunted? If more were done with that idea, it might be entertaining, but in the current version it's simply unclear and a bit distracting.
Yet it is a sweet show, enjoyable and accomplished.