To clown or not to clown, that is the question, or at least the question Clown Cabaret explores in their high-octane slapstick Delusions of Grandeur.
Fortunately for audiences, the fools of Clown Cabaret are not likely to give up their buffoonery for Shakespeare’s classics anytime soon, but watching the talented clowns bumble their way to this decision is pure entertainment. The clowns’ misfortunes are of course the audience’s delight, as are their wickedly bad puns, chicken suits, and facefuls of whipped-cream pie Clown Cabaret has waiting for us in abundance.
Over the course of Delusions, the malleable trio contorts themselves into a variety of characters. The lanky Rich Potter struts the stages as the world’s most pompous, and possibly worst, magician, bungling trick after trick while remaining confident he is holding the audience in awe.
Karen Beriss acts as straight woman to her two bumbling co-stars, alternately educating the audience about the history of clowning and stealing scenes with wry one-liners. Matthew Pauli only wants to perform a song on the ukulele, but technical complications, mostly of his own design, make even the simplest of tasks impossible.
Half-way through the performance, Pauli has a change of heart. After leading the audience through a touchingly-sincere sing-along, he confesses that he has higher aspirations than simple clowning, and reveals the “delusions of grandeur” that gives the show its name.
Remembering his classic training, he pledges himself to performing the plays of Shakespeare. Unfortunately for Pauli, his co-stars are only too eager to help, and like the mechanicals of the Bard’s own Midsummer Night’s Dream, Pauli finds his noble intentions quickly going awry as the trio launches one of the world’s brief and most chaotic renditions of Shakespeare’s catalog to date.
With plenty of ad-libing, improvisation, and audience participation (including a literal interpretation of the game “Rock, Paper, Scissors,”) Clown Cabaret brings a lively show to the Fringe Big-Top in Delusions, a seriously funny farce that would be a shame to miss.
Delusions of Grandeur has 5 performances, ending July 28, 2012 at the Baldacchino Gypsy Tent, Fort Fringe, 607 New York Ave NW, Washington, DC.
Details and tickets
Michael rates this 4 out of a possible 5.