Like man discovering fire, watching three clowns discovering balloons for the first time is both magical and momentous. Imagine the possibilities, the comedy, and all the things you can make with balloons!
Well, imagination overflows in this wonderfully creative and awe-inspiring piece of children’s theater that’s built for both kids and the kids-at-heart. If you’re in the mood for something completely different from the rest of the Fringe roster and don’t mind sharing an audience with a bunch of young children, Balloon Plays is a perfect way to spend an afternoon.
The plot and concept, simple and sweet, follows our three clowns waking up covered in balloons and how each wants to tell their own story through these magical devices. Nothing dense or tedious, the major focus here is on play and these clowns, under the direction of Elena Day, do it brilliantly.
Nora Achrati, Rachel Hynes, and Kolleen Kintz all work together to build an environment that is both completely goofy and kid-friendly yet also deeply engaging and charming for adults. Their over-the-top pop culture references had adults bellowing with laughter while the sight gags alone elicited high-pitched laughs from the kids in the audience.
created by the ensemble
at The Shop – Fort Fringe
607 New York Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001
Details and tickets[/wpcol_1quarter]They create all kinds of worlds for them, and us, to explore: fish and creatures under the sea, birds and butterflies in the sky, and all things that creep and crawl in the dense jungle. The bare set, save for the integral balloons, becomes a playground for the clowns. They are decked out in simple costumes, mainly comfy black rompers and jumpsuits with bright splashes of color, with hairstyles all chaotic and some greatly defying gravity.
These clowns are more in the vein of mimes, looking to focus more on the work they create than having their bodies be the spectacle, except for when they discover the immense power of static electricity! The stage is also brought to life by the great integration of lighting and music composed/designed for the show, creating separate worlds of more open clowning and one more focused on storytelling.
The best feat of storytelling in the performance is that of “balloon girl”: you would never think that a collection of 6 balloons in the shape of a person could be so affecting, but I found myself gasping at times in concern for her and the things she did. When imbued with their collected clowning skills, these inanimate balloons became so much more, and it is absolutely incredible how much emotional stock we put in them.
Wildly original clowning at its best, Balloon Plays captures both kids and adults in a state of sheer wonder with its magical simplicity.
Besides being the creator/producer of Balloon Plays, Brett Steven Abelman also writes for this site. That did not affect this review.