original-clown-down-instagram.jpg
Courtesy of Risk Reward, illustration by Matty Newton

For the past few years, much of Anthony Hudson’s performance energy has gone towards his ever-evolving show Looking for Tiger Lily, where Hudson and his “drag clown” persona Carla Rossi explore Hudson’s First Nations identity. It’s a thoughtful, fun, funny exploration of persona, and Hudson will debut a grand, multicast version of the work for Artists Repertory Theatre’s spring season. So with the short, weekend-long production of Clown Down: Failed to Mount Hudson—as Carla Rossi—immediately notes that this short hour-long show will not have any material about Hudson’s cultural identity. I think the phrase was "no Indian stuff," but I didn’t write the quote down legibly. Carla Rossi would say something along those lines, as she is Hudson’s clown persona that he uses to play with the idea of wearing whiteface—taking on a caricature of a catty, suburbanite woman.

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In Clown Down, Carla Rossi is costumed in a breathtaking fluorescent tracksuit. She raves about how busy she’s been, assembling a “mirkdorp-ga-dorp” cabinet she bought from a well known Swedish manufacturer, which she didn’t bother to affix to the wall because, honestly, who does that? Moments later, Murphy's law takes effect, and the cabinet falls. Carla Rossi spends the rest of the show trapped beneath it, soliciting help from a variety of sources: a Life Alert® robot she stole from a senior center, a proselytizing compassionate conservative, a cult of opossums, and so many more!

I can’t say enough about how much I loved Clown Down. I loved the premise. I loved the execution. I loved the puppetry by Matthew Leavitt, who managed to communicate so much physical comedy despite being covered from head to toe in black fabric. I loved special guest Jillian Snow Harris, who blew me away with her impersonation of a telekinetic Liza Minnelli.

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If you can’t tell from these descriptions, the show is hilarious. Hudson is a gifted, original comedy writer—we’ve seen this in his other projects like the Queer Horror screenings at the Hollywood Theatre, his recent “Alternate Options for Harvey Milk Street” installation for the 2019 Portand Biennial, and the associated “Requiem for Vaseline Alley” walking tour. The jokes in Clown Down flew at the audience so quickly and with such abundance that I could barely write any down, but holy crap that joke about Virginia Woolf cosplayers with rocks in their pockets was next level.

If I have any complaints it’s that I couldn’t somehow (selfishly) get even more jokes from Clown Down. Carla Rossi commits to full versions of appropriate hits like “Is That All There Is?” and “Cabaret,” but I greedily wanted truncated songs so I could sip on more glorious gags. If you missed Clown Down, you have my sympathy. It only played for one weekend. But if you're a Sunday blog reader, you have one more shot: there's a last show at 5 pm.

(Thurs Nov 14– Sat Nov 16, 8 pm & Sun Nov 17, 5 pm, Pacific Northwest College of Art, 511 NW Broadway, tickets are pay what you can [suggested price: $20])

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