Though everywhere you look in Hollywood, CA these days it seems more old school bungalows and small houses are being torn down to make room for hulking apartment buildings that tower over us all [and conjure up fearful projections of what the next earthquake will be like] history and vaudeville come alive in a unique fashion with Twirly’s Traveling Tricks at Hollywood Fringe Festival. Created by and starring Dana Benedict, Twirly is an ‘undead clown’ who speaks in her own language [Twirlish], controls the crowd with her alternating infectious call to cheer via a ‘Yay!’ that just makes you smile and her clear looks of silent [all in good fun] scorn when we miss her cues and just generally speaking offers us a wonderful, unsettling, truly funny good time. She keeps us on our toes, offers us a snack and tap dances her way right into our hearts and minds.
Those of you afraid of clowns might be unsettled by her at first. This isn’t familiar territory for most of us and we never really get to see what she has inside that cart of hers that she wheels out at the top of the show. She could honestly have anything in there, since the show’s press release notes that “this is an ideal performance for audiences that love their horror and comedy blended together in a metaphorical NutriBullet, then spat back in their face.” You might not feel comfortable running into her in a dark alley and you should wonder what she might be inspired to create for you when she pulls out the balloon animals but that feeling of not having a single idea what might be coming next is what makes this such a fun ride.
Dana Benedict is Twirly in “Twirly’s Traveling Tricks” at Hollywood Fringe Festival. Photo provided by Dana Benedict.
It’s the kind of show you don’t want to reveal too much about – you want to experience it fresh for yourself without expectations – but shades of Bill Irwin from his classic “Regard of Flight” can be found in the way Twirly struggles with her footwear and its delightful to watch Twirly make these clowning traditions her own. From the oversized pants she wears that she is constantly adjusting to the hat that becomes part of the act when it falls repeatedly off her head when she arches back into a half split, clown-fueled, warrior pose – all of the touchstones are here. There is one moment with a different hat that pulls us into our time with an almost jarring musical cue that may not quite fit in, but this passes quickly and so we are never fully able to free ourselves from the spell Twirly casts until it is over – and we wish it wasn’t.
If the accordion doesn’t get you where you live or her tap skills aren’t stirringly nostalgic [and excellent] enough for you, we also get a song that’s fit to make you cry. Overall, Twirly succeeds in providing a unique escape from the daily, modern grind and this viewer, for one, will always be happy to follow her.
What: Twirly’s Traveling Tricks at the 2019 Hollywood Fringe FestivalWhere: Studio C, 6448 Santa Monica Blvd.
Saturday, June 15th @ 8:00 pm
Thursday, June 27th @ 10:00 pm
This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.