Handshake Uppercut, a Victorian Clown Throwdown

Created and performed by: Jay Dunn & John Leo
Outside eyes: Jecca Barry, Richard Harrington, Deborah Kaufmann, Sophie Nimmannit

Presented by Dixon Place
Saturday, November 19, 2011

Having seen John Leo several times doing somewhat outrageous to wonderfully stupid bits of theatrical comedy at the NY Clown Theater Festival on many occasions, he was always all right to great.   Handshake Uppercut created with Jay Dunn is on the road to becoming a brilliant piece of theater.  Jay and John work well together in this odd world they created with a simple brilliant opening. One could compare it to other types of theater but that would be limiting what these two are in the process of creating.

This is the best I have seen John Leo and it is so refreshing to see these two help raise each other’s level of performance in this piece.  Something as simple as tying and untying each other’s shoes is not a moment but an entire dramatic piece with in the show raising the drama of the situation to places you do not expect.   The use of the audience member was great.  It was respectful and joyful.  Taking it beyond and outside the normal boundaries.  Of course this is very risky and risk always helps a theatrical piece.

Oh…there is not one word in this piece, which they speak.  In great mime, one does not notice the mime.  This is a silent piece of theater – one could call it mime-theater as well as true clown-theater and one does not even notice no words are spoken.  It is refreshing.   Jacque Lecoq said, “during times of political change and upheaval mime always become more popular.”

This was the final show in this run.  But I am sure they are taking this back into the studio to continue growing it.  There is a story line and they can use a little more dramatics in the arch of the Handshake Uppercut.    The one lip sink piece did not rise to the theatrical level of the rest of the show and the recorded song seemed out of place.  They use music very well.  It sounds like some of the recorded sound and music effects are their own music.  If they played all the recorded music in symphony orchestra great, if it is recorded music they are using they need to credit the musicians and figure out how to use it legally.  Why?  This show has an excellent possibility of growing into having a real theatrical run Off Broadway.  It is getting close to the level of great clown-theater and Handshake Uppercut will help raise the quality bar of clown-theater.  Looking forwards to seeing the next run of Handshake Uppercut

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