Thursday, March 7, 2013

Review: Clown Bar

Ain't too much sadder than the tears of a clown

Pipeline Theater Company at Parkside Lounge
written by Adam Szymkowicz
directed by Andrew Neisler
attended Feb. 28

Man walks into a bar, looking for the joker who killed his brother. Sounds like a gag, this piece of clown noir, and most of its cast wears a cherry red nose. But Clown Bar pours its pulp strong enough to tickle fans of Bogart and Mitchum too. Staged in the back room of an LES dive, the show plays out in real time as its cop protag investigates a crime syndicate. The script is tight and funny—hard-boiled schtick. The direction serves to tell the story, ignoring the implications that link clowns to class and the Sophoclean sense of fatalism that makes noir so cynical. Shane Zeigler gives the lead detective a voice like Batman and an attitude like Leslie Nielson: so square he's hilarious. But he can't prevent the theft of Clown Bar by Kelly Rae O'Donnell. Muttering like Popeye used to do, she gives her floozy in facepaint an emotional fragile undertone. The whole show's as substantial as a helium balloon but seriously funny.

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Clown Bar plays at Parkside Lounge, closing on March 23. Tickets?

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