Well, I won’t deny that I was puzzled when I went to see the Four Clowns production of The Halfwits’ Last Hurrah, playing now at the Lillian Theater as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. As you can see from the masthead of this web page, I review theater for Creepy LA—which means that presumably anything I review will be creepy in some way. So when I got the assignment to cover this show, I did a little legwork and found out that the production company (Four Clowns) is internationally known and dripping with awards, and that of course the Fringe is its usual outstanding self this year. But what I didn’t find out was exactly what sort of show Last Hurrah would be.
So again, I assumed a creepy show, seeing as I’m with Creepy LA.
Off to the spacious theater I go, running into friends in the long line outside and then marveling at the comfort and roominess inside. As we entered, the show began—a running comedy-vaudeville-surreal extravaganza that has tons of laughs, goofy artiness and a cast where you can’t pick just one standout because everybody’s at the top of their game.
There’s a fairly insane plot about impresario Butterbeans Arbuckle (Don Colliver, one of the writers) struggling against the wicked show-wrecking plot of his ex-partner, The Real McCoy (Jolene Kim) and his henchmen (Jamarr Love and Tyler Bremer). There’s hints of incest with the tumbling Inderdorf twins (Jennifer Carroll and Dave Honigman), scheming with Burlesque Blonde (co-author Jamie Franta), slapstick from Benji Kaufman and Julia Davis, and more comical variety performances from Pruella Tickledick (Charlotte Chanler) and stilt-walking Madame La Merde (Helene Udy). And the audience’s hearts are stolen by nearly mute Nimrod (Elizabeth Godley) as pianist Wayne H. Holland III tickles the ivories throughout.
And there’s kidnapping and a killing. As you expect in a stage production.
Franta and Colliver’s zany script brings you right into their bizarro world from the first moment of the play with the able help of director David Anthony Anis. There’s plenty of laughs and a real sense that you’re looking at the future of clowning in America, and that it’s gonna be kind of cerebral and childish and weird and cool… because that’s what this show is. Not a red rubber nose in sight, but sometimes a fake mustache is better anyway.
But is it creepy?
Okay, you got me. It’s not creepy. But it’s a lot of fun, and since horror people like theater, circus, sideshow, vaudeville, make-believe and off-kilter journeys into weird worlds you don’t see every day, there’s a lot to recommend in The Halfwits’ Last Hurrah. So go see it—fan does not live by horror and Halloween alone…