Posted on Jul 21, 2013
5 out of 5
Now, take the word clown. Probably certain images pop up in your mind: top hats, red noses, grotesquely painted faces, balloon animals. Unnerving grownups looming over you, insisting that you call them "Uncle Bumpo". Add in awkward stifling birthday parties in some kid's backyard, inexplicable behavior a three-year-old cannot begin to understand, add a dash of John Wayne Gacy and you've got a recipe for developing a healthy dislike of clowns that will last the rest of your life.
But the funny thing is, it ain't necessarily so. Somewhere along the line, clowns became funny. Well--some, anyway. Somewhere around Cirque de Soleil they put away the slap-sticks and got down to some serious physical comedy. We saw it last year with David Gaines' incredible "7 (x1) Samurai", and we're seeing it this year in the person of Slater Penney and Jaron Hollander and their incredible "Submarine Show".
An Emmy-award winner and Cirque-de-Soleil veteran, respectively, these two have put together a fantastic show that brings us down to the bottom of the ocean with two explorers trying to restart their stalled submarine. The show is almost entirely pantomime, sound effects and (very few) spoken words provided by the duo. During the course of the performance, there is an unceasing parade of increasingly dire situations as the two stumble from mishap to mishap. In the end, somehow, they manage to right themselves, and the story ends as it began, in the murky depths of the ocean.
This is a simple show, typical of Fringe productions. No sets, no props, just lighting and sound cues. The two performers ably fill the rest, aptly filling in the blanks. Technically the performance was spot on. Hollander and Penney clearly enjoy their job, and the enjoyment is infections. They hooked the audience almost immediately, and carried them straight through to the end (speaking of which, they are not above audience interaction, something you may wish to bear in mind as you choose your seat in the MET's black box theater. Not that sitting in the back will save you.)
To this reviewer, the Fringe is all about seeing the outre', the odd little shows you would never see otherwise. The Submarine Show fills this ably, and makes an excellent start to this years' festival.