Toxique Trottoir’s“Aquaphonie!” is a charming water-themed non-verbal clown show created for children but just as fun for grown-ups. Three clowns ride in on a cool bike that vaguely looks like a discarded submarine. They seem to be water scientists of sorts – perhaps water enthusiasts is a better term, as their scientific research methods are questionable – who are deeply engaged in a quest to understand the world’s waters.
The leader, a serious type with a permanent scowl and a low tolerance for her colleagues’ fun and games, makes fruitless efforts to keep the other two on task. The second is clever and mischievous, and though she means well, she is hopelessly drawn to trouble. The third is a classic simple-minded buffoon, who keeps accidentally straying from the path. These characters play on existing tropes, and while the dynamics between them aren’t novel, it is abundantly clear that they are used and re-used for a reason: they work! Performers Évelyne Laniel, Dominique Marier and Muriel de Zangroniz don’t only stretch their facial muscles into hilarious over-the-top expressions; they also give their characters a lot of heart. The three clowns form a loveable team of seemingly mismatched personalities, three fools in pirate-like attire who won’t hesitate to throw water balloons at one another, but who ultimately have each other’s backs.
With a large collection of receptacles ranging from a large planter (also tested as a tiny bathtub) to a comically small cup, our three adventurers unleash the best of water’s comic potential. A carnivalesque soundtrack underscores their shenanigans, and parts of the show almost look like a ballet; a ridiculous, cartoonish, water-themed ballet. Impossible not to crack a smile as they make their way through a complicated sequence of way too many steps, pouring water through a series of funnels into increasingly large numbers of containers gradually decreasing in size, all just to collect a few milliliters of water into a vial. It takes a few minutes for the show to get to the good parts, but once it does it just keeps getting better and better until the end.
When water begins to spurt out of a leak in their main reservoir, the team panics in trying to find a solution, which they do – quite a creative one at that – but not before a few failed attempts that leave them soaking wet and more stressed out than ever. In clown tradition of using the most ineffective ways of getting things done, they attempt to clean up the gigantic splash they’ve made on the pavement with such tools as a sponge, a spoon, and even a paint roller for some misguided reason. Other highlights include the desperate measures to which they resort to get more water once they run out, including licking it off the ground, and drinking their own tears (not tasty, from what I gather).
“Aquaphonie” closes more than a full week earlier than other Fringe shows, so don’t miss your window! Bring your kids, bring your smile, and do be warned: you might get splashed, you might get roped into audience participation, and you will definitely have a good laugh.
Toxique Trottoir presents “Aquaphonie”
at the 29th St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival
Performances: May 31 – June 7, 2019
Venue: Off D – Parking du Musée des hospitalières
201 des Pins O. Montréal, H2W 1R5
Admission: $7 | For all ages
Check out all our other 70+ reviews
from this year’s fest on our Fringe page!
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