ICARO
Teatro Sunil at Vancouver East Cultural Centre
December 7-12
$30/$22
604-280-3311
www.ticketmaster.ca

This was one el bizarro night in the theatre for me. Icaro is a two-person show performed by one person, the Italian-Swiss clown who wrote it, Daniele Finzi Pasca, plus someone he pulls out of the audience. Pasca has performed it more than 600 times over the past decade at festivals across Europe and South America, and boasts of winning the award for Best Foreign Production in Uruguay in 1994. I'm not making that up. "I hope to succeed in making your eyes weep," he writes in the program. I had to struggle to keep my eyes open.

I knew I was in for a long evening when the genuinely charming Pasca spent 15 minutes at the top of the show explaining to the audience how Icaro was written to be played to one person at a time. The next 90 minutes, which could easily have taken only 15, take place in a double room in what appears to be a mental hospital. Pasca, in one bed, speaks to and interacts with his audience member who occupies the other. The story, such as it is, concerns his desire to fly away out of this oppressive place (hence Icarus). After much talk about it, the theatrical payoff comes very near the end of the show in a lovely moment when Pasca and his audience-roommate assume their wings and finally "fly." He also at one point plucks out "Silent Night" on the springs of his bed. Otherwise, the show consists of his lame clowning--getting his hands stuck to netting (a gag repeated many times), trying to put his pants on over his hospital gown and clown shoes--and banal chatter to his companion. Speaking in fractured, heavily accented English, Pasca gropes for words and repeats himself a lot--part of the act, no doubt, since he's been doing the show forever. But I mean a lot. Even though he really is a charmer, the shtick wears off pretty quickly.

What made the evening bearable and in some ways remarkable for me was the audience member Pasca chose to occupy the stage with him. A luminously beautiful young woman with long red hair named Kirsty, she not only played along with him for the entire show--improvising responses to his questions and remarks, letting him haul her around the stage and frequently paw her in a way that seemed a little creepy--but she did it all with a kind of transcendental placidity that profoundly upstaged his clowning. I found it hard to take my eyes off her. Unless she's a ringer who will be on stage every performance, I wouldn't take a flyer on this one.

Jerry Wasserman

 

 
 
                       
 
 
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