By Michelle Barker
The world may be ending, but The Experts have arrived at the Toronto Festival of Clowns just in time to save us all
Four clowns are trying to avoid death and total world destruction by an unnamed force that seems to be linked to earthquakes, the ‘swan’ flu, and meteors. That’s the premise of The World is Ending… And It’s All Your Fault, an hour-long play created by The Experts Collective as part of the fifth annual Toronto Festival of Clowns.
I never really know what to expect from clown; it always has to potential to be really uncomfortable if it flops. Fortunately for me and my show partner, Rodney, this was not the case.
The Experts is a clown group made up of former theatre school colleagues (Brittney Francis, Jon Sousa, Jesse Stanley, Stephanie Bye) who excel at the art of clown. The piece was beautifully created, leaving the audience laughing to the point of pant-wetting at points, and moved to tears at others.
Aside from being full of hysterical physical comedy and absurd antics, the show also deals with very real and socially-relevant problems that have been facing the world in the last few years. The clowns don’t just rely on cheap laughs to drive the point of their show home; beneath the red noses are interesting and lovable characters, masterfully portrayed by each actor.
…although, seeing a clown slip on a banana peel in real life is at least fifteen times funnier than it is in cartoons.
My show partner Rodney absolutely loved the production, noting that the concept of the show was both funny and intelligent… even though the clowns tried to use him as a virgin sacrifice to save the world. True story.
Stand-out moments for us included a demonstration of what to do in case of various imminent natural disasters and a surprisingly emotional attempt by two of the clowns to bring their best friend back to life; but nothing can top the profound and touching ending that made this show a remarkable work of art with a thought-provoking message.
This show only played for one night during the festival, but be sure to keep an eye out for the next show that The Experts Collective creates. They’re talented and they have the capacity to hit Toronto Theatre in a new and big way.
photo of Brittney Francis, Anika Johnson, Jonathan Sousa, Stephanie Bye and Jesse Stanley by Leks Raamat