Who: Conscious Fool Theatre Company
Length: 45 minutes
Where: Theatre Aquarius Studio (190 King William Street)
When: July 21-31 as part of the Hamilton Fringe Festival
Tickets: $12 + $1.75 fee at https://boxoffice.hftco.ca/event/866:582/
Squid is a clown, and he is not afraid of anything, so he tells us. But, he says, he once was afraid of…the Bully! Squid, the show, is about this clown telling his audience how he beat the Bully. In reality, the show is about having the audience to help Squid beat the Bully.
Mario Lourenco is Squid, but also plays the Bully when necessary. He is an excellent clown, apparent in his inventiveness and playfulness, and also in his full embodiment of every emotion and action he takes. Lourenco is so warm as a performer, so inviting, and his fun is so infectious. The performance must be physically exhausting, but Lourenco never falters. If anything, he’s more energetic at the end than the beginning. Lourenco rolls with every punch, plays with his audience adeptly, and incorporates unexpected events and suggestions into his narrative with ease and charm.
Note that audience participation is part of the show. Fear not- it’s all so gentle, that no audience member need fear a bad interaction. By the end of the show, it felt like playing a game with Squid. The audience wasn’t “participating;” we were playing. That back-and-forth increased in ease and frequency by the end of the show, and there is little doubt in my mind that with an extra fifteen minutes, we might have all been up on the stage, playing together. Furthermore, had that happened, even unplanned, I have no doubt that Lourenco would have managed to naturally incorporate it all into his production.
The show caps off with a bit of an odd message. Rather than note the specifics, I’ll share that Squid reevaluates his fears, and it comes across strangely as a blanket moral to close off the show. While the moral itself is worthwhile, it deserves more nuance in its delivery than a one-hour show can offer.
Despite this conclusion, Squid is a wonderful show- charming, hilarious and earnest in that perfectly-earnest clown way.