I saw a great show last night. It’s actually the second time I’ve seen it. “The Absence of Magic,” written and performed by the always amazing Eric Davis (Red Bastard), is one of the best solo shows I’ve seen all year…and I curate a solo arts festival. It’s playing as part of the NY Clown Theatre Festival, also produced by Mr. Davis, his partner, Audrey Crabtree and The Brick Theater.
I first saw “Absence” about a year ago, in the same space, and since then, the show’s gotten tighter, funnier and more poignant. It’s a grand ride into the mind of a nameless Clown who searches for the “Glove of Never-ending Awesomeness.” It places The Clown with us in a theater, a proverbial prison. He’s trapped, and so are we. The Audience doesn’t just become interactive with the clown; it becomes part of The Clown’s existential journey. But unlike desperate existential stories seen before, hope permeates the play.
“The Absence of Magic” is an ironic title, for it is the opposite of what occurs for 70 minutes in this tiny, black-box theater located just off the Lorimer stop on the L Train. Between spouts of confusion, fear, anger, frustration and absurdity intersect joy, love, happiness and optimism. The Audience laughs at The Clown, and as soon as it does, it piques his interest in The Audience, which becomes part of the show. Some of the bits are typical ones we’ve seen in tons of shows before. But this experience is different. Instead of just using The Audience for a laugh, The Clown really utilizes them to find what he wants: Never-ending Awesomeness. It’s in these gaps of forgetting the propetual fearful state in which he exists that he enjoys the journey. He forgets about his neurotic fear of bones strewn about the stage (presumably, from a previous long gone cell mate), the possibility of escape by the horse that rides through every ten days, the huge ball of wire he insists is a conch shell and The Voice from above that talks to him but The Audience cannot hear. When he lets go of toiling over the quest, he is free. The instant he stops playing, he remembers he’s trapped. Exhausted, toward the end of the play, he declares, “It is the petty things that wear you down, really.” Letting go of the pettiness and, instead, embracing the play(ing), The Audience leaves, rewarded with a little bit of magic.
And, such is life.
Check it out. It’s got two more shows this weekend. Ten bucks. It’s worth more.
ABSENCE OF MAGIC Eric Davis
Written by Eric Davis and Sue Morrison
Directed by Sue Morrison
Eric Davis stars as a bone-thin cantankerous clown, whose neurotic endeavors run the gamut of comic expression. Wildly impish one moment, pathetically gutless the next, he answers the call to an epic adventure only to find himself stranded in a cave for 100,000 years. Surrounded by the skeletons of failed attempts, he must now conquer a disembodied voice as this unlikely hero fends off monsters, struggles to make a name for himself and quests to find the Glove of Never Ending Awesomeness.
Sat., Sept. 16 at 8:30 PM
Sun., Sept. 17 at 2:30 PM