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“Old Clown Wanted” — More Fun Than a Barrel of Monkey

by Ernest Kearney  —  Matei Visniec is a Romanian playwright who sought and was granted political asylum in France in 1987.  Following the collapse of the Communist regime of Nicolai Ceausescu in 1989, Visniec became one of his nation’s most touted dramatists.

Old Clown Wanted, a recently mounted Odyssey Theatre Ensemble presentation, reflects his expanding international reputation, having been produced in France, Germany, Denmark, Austria, Finland, Poland, Italy, Brazil and other countries.  Though for the life of me I can’t see why.

Three old clowns Niccolo (Alan Abelew), Flippo (José A. Garcia) and Peppino (Beth Hogan) all meet in a squalid upper story space that seems like a dance studio which has been empty of music for a dismally long time.

On a locked door hangs a sign, “Old Clown Wanted.”

Niccolo, Flippo and Peppino, all of long association, wail joyously at their unexpected encounter, bicker and try to manipulate each other into leaving so that they’ll be the only “old clown” at the audition.

There is some amusing tomfoolery as “wish cake icing,” meaning, I wish there was a cake under all that icing.

I assume there is a deeper meaning under it all, resonating on a social political level with allusions to regime change where one “old clown” is as good as another.

According to the program’s notes, Visniec holds great respect for clowns as “the embodiment of one who laughs when one cries and cries when one laughs.”

But the three clowns he places on his stage are “moronic clowns compelled to strut about, to perform in the great social comedy, playing into the hands of the machine conceived for the purpose of humiliating us, of dehumanizing us, of killing us.”

All right, if he says so.

I saw none of that.

What I did see was a trio of fine performers in a solidly mounted show.

Abelew and Garcia backslap and backstab each other with infectious mirth, and the incomparable Beth Hogan demonstrates all the qualities which render her “incomparable.”

But, despite the fine performances, if you come expecting Beckett’s Didi and Gogo you will be disappointed.  Come expecting nothing more than diverting hijinks and you may have an amusing night at the theatre.  Soundly directed by Florinel Fatulescu on a superb set by Jeff Rack.

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Old Clown Wanted

played

The Odyssey Theatre Ensemble

  From Sept. 22 to Nov. 4, 2018

For more information about upcoming Odyssey Theatre Ensemble productions

Visit

www.odysseytheatre.com

or phone

310-477-2055 EXT. 2

♦     ♦     ♦

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Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. After a wild and misspent youth, which lasted well into middle age, Kearney has settled down and is focusing on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. Ernest’s stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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