The charming thing about this new play is that the actors (who are also the writers) know their characters and story so very well.
Wayne Anthoney, a well-known Adelaide clown and Jenn Havelberg, a movement teacher have taken their many years of performing and life experiences and poured them into creating this piece. And it’s good fun, and also thought-provoking at times too.
A seventy year old clown, deserted by his life-long wife and still looking for the big break meets down and out dance instructor – who never really made it… and a special bond forms. Could the dance lesson deliver much more than a new routine for the clown’s tired old act?
From the moment Anthony walks on to the stage we feel the clown at work. “God I’m funny” he says. And he is – as he presents generous helpings of slap-stick, one liners, dry wry comments and pleasantly predictable jokes. This is Anthony at his very best. He has managed to take the clown persona and art form and immerse it completely into his acting of the clown character… and it is beautiful, raw, sad, funny and at times – dark and desperate.
In the same way Havelberg uses her many years of experience of presenting the body to portray the ways of an old dancer and we are with her character entirely. Jen’s strength is in her movement and articulated delivery – and the honesty that she approaches this role with has us all convinced.
We believe this gentle, endearing story, and that’s the key to this play’s success.
Director Lisa Lanzi has done a marvellous job – setting it in a simple and convincing surround and finding a style which compliments the story and each of the actor’s distinctiveness.
There is some excellent movement, dance and puppetry type work – using coats and wigs. It’s clever, well-rehearsed, breaks up the action and drips a sweetly stylised extra layer over the production.
And although the script falters a bit at times – particularly in presenting, but then not dealing with some possibly interesting sub-plots, the obvious comfort that the two actors have with each other, their material and the audience allows us to be with – what just is, not fall into – what just isn’t.
This is an enjoyable one hour new work about being a human being, realising that you’ve missed the bus, and trying to get a bit of joy out of life, before it’s all too late. With a tad more script development… I reckon this one could have legs.
The third piece in the Bakehouse Black Box series gets my tick as the winner, and also hits home that this innovative program has allowed three new interesting and very original all South Australian plays to go from page to stage, and isn’t that something to really dance about!