Get to know D.C. with our daily newsletter
We dive deep on the day’s biggest story and share links to everything you need to know.
Fort Fringe – Baldacchino Gypsy Tent Bar
Tuesday, July 24, 8:30 p.m.
Wednesday, July 25, 6 p.m.
Saturday, July 28, 2:15 p.m.
They say: “A classically trained actor, a pompous clown and a girl attempt to create epic theatre. The show devolves into Shakespeare, death, pies and laughter.”
Aaron’s Take: It’s no wonder that the golden age of clowns is a bygone one. Clowns—-and I use the term loosely, encompassing all kinds of mimes and slapstick artists, rather than just the sad-faced bozos who, after a career misstep or two, make a living scaring five-year-olds on their birthdays—-were at their greatest when comedy was simple, silly, and, most importantly, silent. The Segels and Galifianakises of the modern era can’t recapture the magic of Chaplin’s sound-free antics. Even the Marx Brothers talkies needed the mute Harpo to hold things together.
The members of Clown Cabaret fall victim to this Fundamental Law of Clownage in Delusions of Grandeur. The show’s highlights are its silent sight gags: an attempted bank robbery by three inept mimes, for instance, and a performance by the “world’s flashiest magician.” Its lowlights are pretty much all the spoken bits, but particularly some brutally overwrought puns. (One entire scene is just buildup to a punchline about why moving to Alaska might not be the best idea: “I’m just not that Inuit.”)
When clown Matthew Pauli attempts, in a speechless scene, to set up his mic and amp for a musical interlude, only to have his not-quite-long-enough cable send the mic stand flying this way and that—-a classic sight gag straight of the Chaplin/Marx playbook—-it’s absolutely precious. When he finally gets around to singing—-“The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” aka “Wimoweh.” In its entirety. And let’s be honest, he’s no Pete Seeger.—-it’s just kind of puzzling.
And then they all start re-enacting Shakespeare scenes for a good half hour. ‘Nuff said.
Clowns, one of the performers informs us, are in fact the world’s greatest actors. That’s, um, maybe a bit of a stretch, but when it comes to slapstick, they’ve got it down. They just might want to lay off the vocals—-and the puns.
See It If: Your love of physical comedy is strong enough to overcome your cringe reflex from time to time.
Skip It If: Nightmares of your traumatic fifth birthday still send you into conniptions at the sight of a red nose.