Monday, February 27, 2012

LOL: The End

"LOL: The End" is a clown show with a lot on its mind. I went to see this show's premiere at the FRIGID Festival over the weekend because Una Osata was performing in it. Una is a very talented actress and writer I got to know a few years ago at some Freedom Train Production workshops. I was also intrigued because it was going to be a show with her family involved as the other clowns. Her sister Michi and father Yoshimasa Osata would be on stage with her.

I hadn't seen a clown show since "Slava's Snowshow" which was a brilliant cross between vaudeville, Blue Man Group, and Jacques Tati's "Mon Uncle." Slava's clowns embodied the Eastern European morose and dour attitude with floppy gesticulations and faces that were painted in various states of depression.

"LOL" is a completely different style and take on clown shows. "Slava Snowshow" was the epitome European auteur clowns and mimes. "LOL" is Japanese frenetic in flavor. The clowns are more manic, the face paint is more colorful and explosions. While Slava slouched, LOL clowns are balls of energy. While Slava was about the slow decline of a relationship and the loss of love, LOL is an allegory about the end of the planet.

The father is the oldest clown and he's a small cheery wisp of light. Yoshi represents nature, the elements, the  unfiltered state of abundance. The two sister clowns, Michi and Una, seem to be the yin and yang of human nature with Ona as the more earthbound in needs and Michi more obsessed with power and wealth. They discover, consume, fight, discard, and move on. They even consume their father who begins the play as a sheltering home that resembled a tree. The home offers comfort, warmth, and protection. The sisters nestle under the branches, at perfect ease...until Una tries to get a slightly better position of her feet. This escalates into a tit-for-tat that results in the first of many fights.

There's not much point in going over the plot of a clown show. It's like reviewing the storyline of "Tom & Jerry" or "The 3 Stooges." Clown plots are usually repetitive and escalate in obstacles and stakes, forcing the clowns to accomplish even higher feats. The magic is in the ability to riff within the structure and to hit different notes.

As the show plays out, Una and Michi show, not only their clowning prowess, physical grace, and natural humor but begin building toward the allegory. Yoshi's Father Earth figure responds to the pillaging by lashing out with storms, fires, plagues, and a variety of catastrophes upon his daughters. The daughters flee from the terror for a moment, and then quickly return to their antics.

"LOL" is deceptively simple. The show's point is something that you can get in a sentence, but the Osata's bring layers to the tale. I hope they get a chance to tour this show. It's an important piece, which feels odd to say for a clown show. But there's so much room for growth and exploration in this story. The Osata's are a family that plays, acts, and clowns with the best of them.

1 comment:

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