REVIEWS: Princess Sunshine and Out of My Mind
I’m reviewing clown shows of the Fringe, and saw two on the opening day (that was yesterday, Friday August 10) Although I didn’t plan it like this, it turns out that these shows had a lot more in common than just the fact that the performers were clowns. Both of the shows are about clowns trying to find their way in the world.
(please note, as full disclosure, that I am friendly with people in both shows. Marvin Novogrodski and I have been friends for nearly 20 years, and Joel and Juliet Jeske are graduates of Ringling Clown College (as I am)
The first show Princess Sunshine’s Bitter Pill of Truth Funhouse, is a parody of a children’s entertainment show. Featuring a brightly colored set, two puppets, and crazy costumes, if you were to watch a video of the show, with the sound turned down, you might not notice that anything is amiss. Turn the sound up, and actually watch and listen, and you’ll find there’s a whole bunch of subversiveness going on in this show. Believe me, leave the kids at home for this show.
The main character, Princess Sunshine,(Juliet Jeske) is a former children’s entertainer who is so jaded from doing her 6 birthday parties a weekend that she has decided to create a show that will “tell it like it is” and let kids learn to grow up with some tough love. Featuring characters like the crusty Uncle Fun, who teaches kids how to make a tin spoon shiv (Hey, ya never know)() and the Kommunist Klown (Juliet), who plays a tiny Russian guitar and sings about poverty, the errors of capitalism, and Appalachian teen pregnancy. The show also features the horniest and most lecherous puppet in the universe, Yakko Stinko, (played by Juliet’s husband Joel, who was a featured clown in the last edition of the Big Apple Circus) who has slept with everyone in the show, and a hilarious anti-violence PSA that ends with the rabbit shooting the mountain lion in the groin (TJ O’Brien and Brenda Jean Foley, who play very able sidekicks and characters throughout the show)
This show is definitely worth seeing. It’s in a tiny little theatre on the second floor (you have to enter through a weird little courtyard, and then up the metal stairs) There’s only 50 seats or so, so get your tickets early!
The second show I saw Out of My Mind, deals with a similar theme, but it has a more serious feeling. The actor, dancer, and school performer Marvin Novogrodski is trying to figure out his life, and how he can cope with his crazy family and his conflicting feelings about them and his life. To do so, he brings his real-life hypno-therapist on the stage, Doug Vogel. Vogel leads Marvin through a series of NLP exercises, hypnotic moments, and important questions. Novogrodski tells stories about his family, and acts out some of his therapy sessions. At one point, he turns to the audience and says, “I’m a star in my own personal Pinter play.”
The show is incredibly vulnerable and personal as he explores some of his innermost feelings about his family, his career, his relationships, and his therapy sessions. Both Vogel and Novogrodski are very likable and believable on stage. There are also some very funny moments, and even a brief (and very well done) juggling routine. The show has a non-linear feeling, full of short little moments that are well-acted. But if you look at it from further, you see a fairly linear structure. Marvin has a lot of charisma, and watching the show, I found myself recognizing my own situations and feelings in Marvin’s. I highly recommend this show, not so much from a clowning perspective, but from a “wow!” perspective.
Click a date below to order tickets for the remaining shows.
You can also visit www.fringenyc.org for more information.
VENUE #12: The Independent Theater
|—||OUT OF MY MIND VENUE #2: The Cherry Lane Theatre