Last Clown on Earth

One-man visual theatre from award-winning troupe ambiguously touches humanity's depths

dance review | Read in About 2 minutes
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Last Clown On Earth, by Derevo
Published 04 Aug 2017

This 80-minute journey through the surreal psyche of a man facing extinction is a solo vehicle for Derevo's artistic director Anton Adasinsky, an actor/mime/clown of the Russian tradition he digs from his own soul to excavate profound human truths. In this case, our childlike species' propensity for violence and neverending search for answers.

Adasinsky has the gift of watchability, although our pleasure in his absurdity drops in moments when it seems he doesn't know exactly what he's doing. This is serious theatre clowning, carried off through a vigorous performance that turns all to the absurd with a steely gaze, a twinkling look, or eyes screwed shut against age and the light.

Beginning amongst us, an old man, tattered and tramplike, queues to watch the show. It's an apocalypse movie, perhaps. A combination of live action footage and Pavel Semchenko's animations—both digital and hand-drawn—interact with Adasinsky's Last Clown much as we do: a little, not a lot. Breaking the fourth wall from behind, he is alone even in company.

Motifs from the visual canon of Christianity mix with representations of popular entertainments. A dominant soundscape of clanging, crashing, calliopes and clapping audiences drives a succession of bizarre encounters between Adasinsky and the world around him. Special effects are created by a visible crew, mirroring rippled lights onto a backcloth, focusing beams, or shifting a podium of wafting flames, preventing any illusion from sustaining itself for long. There are plenty of visual treats and, under the extravaganza, more than a tinge of sadness too.