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The Apothecary, 1013 7th St, NW

Remaining Performances:

Friday, July 15 at 8:15 p.m. Saturday, July 16 at 4 p.m. Sunday, July 17 at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 17 at 8:30 p.m.

They say: “Pi explores the world and examines life’s mysteries through a lens of wonder. Their comedic theatre uses acrobatics, juggling, eccentric dance, music, improvisation, puppetry and feats of incredible strength and stupidity, to create a no-holds-barred brawl for licks and laughs. “

Adam’s Take: Send in the clowns.  From where, you wonder?  No, not Capitol Hill.  Ha ha.  San Francisco, of course.  Or, more precisely, the Clown Conservatory of San Francisco whence the three men that make up Pi: The Physical Comedy Troupe all graduated with honors.  Their tuition money (not to mention all of those late-night study sessions) was apparently well worth it.  These are clowns tried and true who could make a cranky old grump put on a smile, or force an audience member to realize the joys of self-humiliation.

These clowns know how to pull out all the stops. Almost all of the classic clown tricks are included. Juggling, sock puppets, and acrobatics to name but a few. The unicycle and squirting flower lapel seemed to be the only ones missing. It was at times, literally, a balancing act, as all of this was squeezed in to an hour performance. Adorned with red rubber noses, they even could muster the look of your traditional Oleg Popov-inspired clown (despite foregoing the oversized shoes for a pair of red sneakers).

But they also effectively used their very different physiques and personas to add a few more unexpected laughs. Jon Deline, whose alias is “Monster Strong,” is not afraid to flex his muscles.  Andrew P. “The Stick” Quick, on the other hand, has no muscles. Together those overt differences make up the yin and yang of the show. The glue who provided needed relief when the contrast between Deline and Quick was just a bit too stark was Bruce Glaseroff.  From photo finish horse races to slow motion wrestling, the acting is impressive. The dialogue is minimal, but the sheer physical actions are so expressive that it communicates everything that needs to be said. It is a testament to their abilities as clowns that they can be so humorous despite speaking so few words.  There were some unexpected moments—-mostly when Delice displayed his more emotional side, belting out A Total Eclipse of the Heart or demonstrating a few of his belly dancing moves.  These were not episodes of brilliance, but amusing they were.

What the performance lacked most of all was cohesion. Perhaps that might be an absurd request for a group of clowns whose silliness and self-proclaimed stupidity is their trademark. The quick jumping from one short piece to the next (while killing any moments of boredom before they could linger) made it hard to appreciate the show for anything more than slapstick comedy that will make you laugh and then consider what you should order at that neat tent bar down the street. Next time the members of Pi should try to put their comedic vignettes together to show precisely that clowns do have some interesting thoughts to share, even if we are too busy laughing to know for sure.

Too frequently, though, we see clowns hanging around the park on their own, separated from their colleagues.  It is a nice change to see a group of clowns together at last.  It is a rule of thumb that three clowns will always be funnier than one, and hands down it has proven true yet again.

See it if: You have thought long and hard about clown college but are wondering if it is the right career step to take during a recession.

Skip it if: Coulrophobia is more than just a word to you—-it is a fact of life.