***1/2 (out of 5)
My friends suggested strongly that I couldn’t leave my first Fringe without seeing at least one bona fide clown show. It didn’t take a lot to convince me. After all, I’d once worked as a clown (not classically French trained, but still) and am a big fan of Natalie Palamides, who’s a former Fringe winner of the Best Newcomer award.
Masli is Estonian-born, and London-based, and won an award from Edinburgh a few years ago for her comic innovation, as part of a show that was all about legs. I believe the title was “LEGS.” I believe that because that’s what that show was called. Anyhow. Masli makes the most of her legs, turning them into surrogates for one of her clown characters and one of the audience members at one point. Speaking of audience interaction, clowning relies on consent. Especially when, like Masli, you budget your economy of words to build tension and suspense amid the silences. So when she tells one audience member, “Don’t be weird,” it gets a huge laugh. When she warns another after several prompts, “I will do it,” you just know she will, indeed. I’m not entirely sure what language “choosh” translates as “bullshit” in, as Google translate didn’t recognize it as Estonian. And it’s not entirely clear where the plot is going in a middle section where Masli’s clown child tries on multiple jobs for size, one of which puts her head inside a toilet somehow. Not that it matters. Masli will charm you, whether or not you understand what’s happening.
Julia Masli: CHOOSH! runs through Aug. 28, 2022, at Assembly Roxy (Downstairs).