Reviewed by Ben Reichstein.
Don’t you hate that part of your knee that you can’t lick? Alice Cooper does. Or rather her confused, well-intentioned stand-in does—Alice was tragically hit by a bus just moments ago! A there’s the main joke of Clown Lights Stage: a vague, conceptual theatre/physical comedy performance that attempts to turn its lack of focus and jumpiness into the main joke. Oh my god—so random.
Which is not to say that the one woman performance lacks charm. It’s hard not to giggle as she writhes around the stage trying to lick Nutella off of her person or eats teabag in a fantasy of Royal British domesticity. The show ticks all the boxes that dominate modern performance and comedy pieces where the artist has reached the performance date and months of workshopping have still failed to take a unified form: self-criticism, meta-humour, and ironic use of multi-media. It doesn’t do a bad job of any of these but at the end of the day the main joke—that this isn’t the real show; that the real show is a serious exploration of the history of theatre and that a naïve amateur is attempting to recreate it by following Alice’s PowerPoint presentation—still feels like its functioning as an excuse for not having thought of any bigger ideas.
You won’t be bored in CLS’s 45 minute running time and there’s a lot of talent for physical comedy and timing on display. There are good jokes and the tone of nervous silliness is very well maintained. But it’s hard to stop asking yourself—how many formless/meta/very-loosely-conceptual small comedy shows do we really need?