Emmett Kelly, Bill Irwin, Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, the great Vyacheslav Polunin* were not merely laugh makers, but reminders of the flimsiness and foibles that all humanity is heir to.
The Romans respected and understood the crucial role “clowns” fulfilled in the social structure and distinguished the specialist in the field; the “circulatores” or “street clowns”, the “palliataes” or mimic farces in which the high and mighty of the city were mocked in the sharpest satire, to the most honored of the rankings – the “derisor” – who were the superstars of Roman banquets, famed for their ability to lavish the guest, host and even emperor with biting ridicule.
The Roman philosopher Seneca called them, “masters at ensnaring their superior.”
Aziz Gual currently performing in “Huraclown” at the 24th Street Theatre, certainly has the proper credentials for his chosen field, graduate of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College and a student of the legendary Marcel Marceau.
It’s as unfeasible and as ineffectual to attempt to describe the spectacle of exceptional clowning, as it is to sit across from a diner who’s chomping down on a finely sautéed steak of Italian beef from the Val di Chiana region, and try to articulate the succulence of the cut.
A philosopher once observed that the sweetest laughter is that which is glistened by a tear, and that is the laughter bestowed on the audience by this show. And from the moment Gual waddles out onto the stage looking like your favorite grandfather, if your favorite grandfather was a walrus, you know you are in the presence of an exceptional clown.
Between saw strumming, juggling and inspired buffoonery, Gual includes a little Mummenschanz, a bit of Señor Wences, and even a lovely homage to Polunin himself. It is a performance which both children and adults cannot help but be delighted by
“All of life is a stage and a game,” the 4th century pagan poet Palladas wrote in defense of clown shows, which taught us to “bear the pain, by teaching us to play.”
Like I said, a very serious business.
Starring Aziz Gual
Presented by 24th STreet Theatre and Aziz Gual
24th STreet Theatre
1117 West 24th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90007-1725
(213) 745-6516 www.24thstreet.org
Performances: Sunday, April 28 @ 11 am & 2 pm
Tickets: Adults: $15
Under 16: $10
Seniors, Students and Teachers: $12
North University Park residents: 24 cents
*If you want to see a master at work check out “Snowshow”.