Mtl Fringe: Is That How Clowns Keep You Up All Night?

Fringe Is that how MaximalisteProductions_Fringe2019_Photo2

Fiona Ross’s sex-ed clown creation Beatrice, aka: Ms. Bea Haven. Photo credit: Pascale Yensen

Mainline Theatre, to June 16, 2019

Following on from last years Is That How Clowns Have Sex?, sex educationalist Fiona Ross returns with her alter-ego, Beatrice the Clown, for another riotous hour of naughty yet sweetly innocent pedagogy.  This time around, she’s even sharper, more consistently funny.

The fun starts in the lobby as Beatrice introduces herself to her audience. An unlooked for moment of hilarity came when a woman queuing, presumably for tickets for a different show, sternly told off the gregarious Beatrice for talking too loud. (Complaining about excessive noise at the Fringe is a bit like going to the swimming pool and complaining it’s too wet). Ross knows a thing or two about reacting to audience reactions, and her look of feigned contrition was a delight, as were the running jokes about the incident throughout the show.

Latecomers also came in for some teasing. The look of wary bemusement as they walked in on the latest bizarre sight was a gift that kept giving, whether it was Beatrice wearing a floppy penis on her head, demonstrating a group scissoring session, or disguising herself as a panty pad during menstruation.

Beginning the show by bursting through a giant vulva like a circus animal jumping through a hoop, Ross takes us on a wacky educational tour of pornography, female ejaculation, anal sex, even the mournful life of an unsuccessful sperm.

There’s lots of audience participation, but such is Ross’s infectious good humour, nobody seems to mind being enjoined to sing a re-jigged version of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing, or being shown how to applaud in a way that sounds like testicles hitting bare flesh – though an audience member yelling “Gross!” as Beatrice spat out chewed-up carrot (used in a demo involving a lovable anal-passage puppet) only encouraged more debris heading her way.

While debates about sex-ed rage on, Ross shows that a combination of utter frankness and a healthy sense of humour about sex is an effective way of preventing future generations from dying of shame or STDs. Her delightful clown persona might hilariously fumble her way through her demonstrations, but this is a show that definitely finds the G(iggle) spot.

About Jim Burke, Special to Montreal Gazette

Theatre writings by Jim Burke, Montreal-based playwright
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