nytheatre.com review by Ivanna Cullinan
September 7, 2006
What a treat! Stop reading this review and go online to buy your seat for the next showing of Ladies Night. Seriously. This will wait, go. Go now. NOW.
All right then, I hope you are returning to this review from arranging your seat for this show—and more fool you if that is not the case. Ladies Night is a ridiculous delight and enormous fun. During its run at the New York Clown Theatre Festival, Ladies Night is Veni Vidi Vici showing with either Variety Theater or Extraordinary Vacancy. The evening I saw was composed of former pairing—two extremely different and highly complementary pieces of Clown. There are numerous funny male archetypes out there, adding to this diversity and wealth of humor are these ladies.
In Veni Vidi Vici, Deborah Kaufmann creates the character Mud, a buffoon seeking the perfect picnic spot. This is a deceptively simple act involving boundaries and the claiming of space. And that launches Mud into a succession of discoveries that indirectly are an exploration of human instincts at so basic a level that thought can be put aside and impulse thoroughly enjoyed. The intriguing Mud takes over the space using very little that is not in her paper bag and making excellent use of a piece of chalk. Harold and his purple crayon are not so powerful as Mud, once she gets going. It was a delight to be literally drawn in. But Mud is by no means merely cute and that is where this performance gleams most brightly, with true mischief and solid will operating unfettered at maximum strength. There is a wonderful deviousness to Mud. The honesty of the work, broadened with humor, makes all of these human elements something to love. There is a small and enjoyable bit of audience participation involved. Kaufmann is a performer to be trusted, enjoyed, and seen!
Variety Theater contains "Classically Trained Musician," Classically Trained Actress," "Classically Trained Singer," and "Cirque de So What." All are classilly performed by the marvelously talented Hilary Chaplain. Chaplain creates committed characters who experience all the recognized agonies of performing live, along with a few I would not have thought possible nor would I wish on most anyone. During "Classically Trained Musician," a sudden and unwanted discovery leads to a notably inventive use of underwear that would make any teacher proud of how well the former student stayed in the moment. The vagaries of performing—costumes gone awry, equipment no longer where it was set, other members of the production suddenly becoming intrusively helpful—do not defeat Chaplain's characters; these are unstoppable women. It is beautiful and hysterical to witness how they will not let the interruptions in life stop the show. The simplest of mishaps that from sheer annoyance value could send anyone's day out the window, are overcome with brilliant determination. They must go on and I was grateful for it.
This is a wonderful evening, do see it. And keep an eye out for Chaplain's other piece in the festival, A Life in Her Day. If it has the same effect as this show, then it will leave one helpless with laughter—and helped by it.