Clowns All Over
By Paul Atreides
Theater critic at EatMoreArtVegas.com
Author of the "World of Deadheads" novels
“Well I don't know why I came here tonight, I've got the feeling that something ain't right, I'm so scared in case I fall off my chair, and I'm wondering how I'll get down the stairs Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right, Here I am stuck in the middle with you.” —Jerry Rafferty / Joe Egan
Though there are quite a few different styles of immersive theatre (as interactive, “Tony and Tina’s Wedding” would be one example), that would be a very apt explanation of what immersive theatre is—at least in the case of Clown Bar 2 A World Premiere now playing at the Majestic Repertory Theatre.
This production, directed by Troy Heard, is fun the minute you push your way through the swinging saloon doors and enter the performance space. Petunia (Napsugar Hegedus), a saucy and sexy employee of the establishment, greets you to lead you to your assigned seat. The entirety is set with tables and chairs, and a tiny proscenium stage is placed opposite a bar with stools. Plastic flag streamers swag overhead. Paintings and mural posters cover the walls
Musty, played by Robert Ryan, is a hobo clown with a beautiful baritone to entertain with songs, such as “Clowns are Scary,” and jokes and puns until the action segues seamlessly into the play. Ryan makes a terrific MC and his character remains throughout the show. He never misses a beat.
Clown Bar 2 A World Premiere by Adam Szymkowicz is a noir comedic mystery taking over the storyline from “Clown Bar.” Here, it's a year later and the Clown Bar is in disrepair and Happy (Matthew Antonizick), the owner, has gone missing. Has he been offed by clown cowboy Brigham Bill (Venus Cobb) or was it an inside job? Two cops (Aaron Barry and Diana Martinez), who knew Happy when he was on the force, go undercover in the Clown Bar to find out what happened.
The antics never stop. Hegedus, Barry, and Martinez truly keep the momentum going. That is until Gabe Gentile and Cory Covell, as Billy Bill and Williamy Bill (respectively) enter the scene. Then things slow down and tend to drag a bit.
But not to worry. April Sauline as Popo cranks it all up again. Popo is mean and dangerous, and Sauline makes her larger than life and funny as she carries around an arrow with a colorful spinner where the feathers would be. All the better to distract you, my dear.
Every aspect of the production is perfectly detailed, from Steve Paladie’s excellent set to the expected seltzer bottle, the endless rope of kerchiefs, and Candice Wynants’ superb costumes. You won’t find Stephen King clowns here, but there are scenes that make this play restricted to those 18 and over.
Parking downtown in the Arts District is an absolute nightmare—which is great for local businesses. The area is hopping on Friday and Saturday nights. I encourage you to arrive early. Very early. Go have a bite to eat at one of the restaurants, have a drink at one of the nearby bars. It’s worth the extra effort because this production is serious fun.
What: Clown Bar 2 A World Premiere
When: Thursday to Saturday 8 p.m.; Sundays 7 p.m. through May 29
Where: Majestic Repertory Theatre, 1217 S. Main St.
Tickets: $35 (www.majesticrepertory.com)
Grade: **** (Delicious)
Producer: Majestic Repertory Theatre; Director: Troy Heard; Choreography: Kady Heard; Lighting Design: Marcus Randolph; Scenic Design: Steve Paladie; Costume Design: Candice Wynants; Sound Design: Cory Covell; Stage Manager: Apollo White