PSST! (A Living Toon Show) | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

PSST! (A Living Toon Show) 

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Pssst! (a living 'toon show), Push&Shove Inc., at Stage Left Theatre. Remember when clowns wore big, baggy clothes, made funny faces, and chased one another in circles until they got dizzy and flopped to the floor like rag dolls? In other words, when clowns behaved like children playing at being grown-ups? The zanies in Pssst! (a Living 'Toon Show) are such clowns, focusing on activities familiar to youngsters--playground games, birthday parties, and fantasies about airplanes, cowboys, and space aliens. And for all the mayhem generated by these scruffy, minimally made-up mummers, each episode ends with a reaffirmation of group harmony and affection.

Pssst! is undeniably an ensemble effort, but Enzo Amitrano as Steve and Beth Gaubatz as Mimsy, who's muffled in an oversize hat and scarf, deliver memorable performances. Also engaging are Melissa Tropp's dainty Squink, Mary Mascari's elfish Small, and Adam Andrews's hyperactive Spatula. The uncredited sound design all but qualifies as a performer in its own right.

The current fashion is for the European clowning style, with its darkly satirical humor, Grand Guignol motifs, and grotesque masks. Pssst! has none of that, instead offering just over an hour of wholesome, old-fashioned, kid-friendly fun. Remember that?

--Mary Shen Barnidge

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