Whew! Two show reviews down today, after an epic triple bill at UNDERCURRENTS yesterday, only one left to go! And after a hundred-pound breakfast at Bramasole to help myself recover from the opening week afterparty, I think I’m ready to tackle the final task of the day (before I have to hustle into show rehearsals of my own, that is). And my only real problem with writing this last one up will be trying not to use all caps or filling entire paragraphs with exclamation points. Because last night at 9 pm, Morro and Jasp returned to Ottawa…and I believe they may now literally own the place.
The much beloved clown duo (in ‘real life’ Heather Marie Annis and Amy Lee), who had made smaller scale excursions into the capitol at the Canadian Comedy Awards and SubDevision, arrive here with their first full show run in town, MORRO AND JASP DO PUBERTY. Their first ‘grown-up- show from, I think, 2009, this show does pretty much exactly what the title suggests, as the clown sisters wend their teenage way through raging hormones, petty squabbles, stupid boys, and a first time visit from their Aunt Flo. Along the way there’s shouting, fighting, some seriously tough sisterly love and more onstage toilet time than I’ve yet had the joy of experiencing in live theatre.
Heather and Amy have their clownish alter-egos down pat, and the laughs they wrest from the audience with such ripe material as this come fast and furious, never really stopping from before the lights go up until after the final curtain. But these clowns are no dummies…they know exactly where the beating heart of their story is, and before you know what’s happening they’ve gone and snuck in some genuine, bittersweet drama in the midst of a hilarious series of tampon jokes. Looking back on it now that the laughter has subsided, I’d say this is one of the sweetest, and probably more honest looks back at that period (sorry) in a young gal’s life that you’re ever likely to see on a stage. It just happens to be perpetrated by two brilliantly gifted clown performers, who if we’re any kind of lucky will keep on coming back to Ottawa to show us how its done. Forever, please. This is as funny and wonderful as theatre has any right to hope to get.
After the show it was time for the official opening week party, where I managed to fulfill my secret mission for this year’s festival, which was to meet Morro and Jasp in person (as in, sans makeup and bright red noses). We did, we hugged, we danced a bit, and it was just damn lovely. Also had the pleasure of a long chat with the show’s director Byron Laviolette, who is a gentleman and a scholar. I’m happy to say Ottawa embraced this gang in magnificent style…that audience was, as superfan Richard Hemphill noted, maybe the most receptive audience we’ve ever been part of. It was a glorious and epic way to finish off my first week of Undercurrents 2014, and you don’t want to miss a moment of it. Peace, love and soul,
Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)
PS: their cookbook (yes, they have a cookbook..!) EAT YOUR HEART OUT WITH MORRO AND JASP, is for sale along with other clown merch in the box office. I’m getting mine, you should get yours. Just sayin’.