BAD-ASS CLOWN: A ONE-MAN EVENING OF MOSTLY COMIC MIME
nytheatre.com review by Jared Robinson
What do you get when you mix an aggravated Johnny Cash, a contorting
model, and a priest? The answer is David Matthew Engel’s Bad-Ass
Clown: A One-Man Evening of Mostly Comic Mime. Engel shows us why
this form has stood the test of time without ever getting trapped in an
imaginary box…. but the clown car is a joy to watch. He makes mime fun
August 15, 2003
The show consists of seven short plays about the way people appear to the world and what they’re really thinking when no one is watching. Under the direction of Laurel Brooke Johnson, Engel plays a host of characters who battle their surroundings with dexterous physical comedy and expert timing to win the day. Pantomimed objects and environments seem to materialize out of thin air, and it is easy to see the many worlds he creates. Adding audience participation to bolster the energy of the show when it begins to lag, Johnson and Engel avoid any stall in the performance.
My favorite element of Bad-Ass Clown is the music. From Gershwin to Johnny Cash, the score fluidly carries the action from a river of comfort, joy, and happiness to rapids of annoyance, anticipation and bludgeoning. The music cues feed the story and give an overall mood of fun and laughs.
The show is short (about an hour) but that feels about right. I did wish for about two more plays, but the old adage to "leave them wanting more" is always preferable to the alternative. I enjoyed Bad-Ass Clown; and with the music and audience participation serving as a backup generator to power the stories and crank chuckles into laughs, this show is absolutely worth the three-flight walk up to The Red Room.