Sean Tuan John, Kill the Klowns

Review in Issue 19-2 | Summer 2007

Sean Tuan John’s Kill The Klowns makes a krazy kind of sense. It taps right into the air of psychotic desperation that seems to ooze through the cracks of a clown’s grease paint, scaring little children and making the rest of us laugh, uncomfortably, at the big top antics. There aren’t any banana skins here, though; the dancers are carefully placed and choreographed in an interestingly lit space. There is a sense of watching them as they are being watched, that the dance they weave is the underscore of a failing vaudeville act and that somewhere just over our own shoulders there is a waning seaside audience, half watching as they wait for the ex-Corrie star at the top of tonight’s bill. There’s nothing slick about the dance, which isn’t to say it isn’t tight. The ragged edge of the details suggests that the Klowns’ hate/love/hate of their work is about to overwhelm them, and in fact it does, to those terrifying consequences that we’ve suspected all along of the white-faced figures and their painted-on smiles. Of the individual performances, there’s an oscillation between the sometimes impenetrable figure of the dancer and the contrasting over-reach of the actor, and here it serves really beautifully to articulate the degrees by which we feel ourselves able to see the performer. Because of its overlapping and thoughtfully staged qualities, interleaved with witty text, it leaves the distance between the Klowns, the performers and us intriguingly ambiguous. This dark ambiguity characterises the fate of our Klowns, too – we don’t know what happened but we know it was bad. Their desolate dance has no future or possibility of redemption. And in knowing this, we feel it might make sense if someone would finally just kill the Klowns.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Feb 2007

This article in the magazine

Issue 19-2
p. 29