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Clowning around is serious business

By: Jenny Jelen - Sudbury Northern Life Staff

 | Dec 11, 2012 - 2:19 PM |
Mélissa Rockburn and Miriam Cusson take clowning around pretty seriously. The local duo is staging Fara Lifa: Fred et Crudo do Iceland Dec. 14-15 and Dec. 20-21 at the Ernie Checkeris Theatre. The piece is an hilarious look at global economies. Supplied photo.

Mélissa Rockburn and Miriam Cusson take clowning around pretty seriously. The local duo is staging Fara Lifa: Fred et Crudo do Iceland Dec. 14-15 and Dec. 20-21 at the Ernie Checkeris Theatre. The piece is an hilarious look at global economies. Supplied photo.

There is nothing funny about economic irresponsibility, unless of course two clowns are talking about it.

Even then, Fred and Crudo are “more troubling and grotesque than ever” in their latest stage production Fara Lifa: Fred et Crudo do Iceland.

The clown duo of Miriam Cusson and Mélissa Rockburn based their latest production on their recent misadventures to Iceland. The two were there in 2009, when “the country's economy was in complete chaos due to financial mismanagement and its politics were in huge turmoil,” Cusson said. 

“We got to witness that firsthand, but we also discovered an incredible folklore with absolutely unimaginable themes and images.”

Many of the adventures they bring to the stage were based on actual experiences they had, while many were made from their imaginations, with help from director John Turner.

Turner is best known as the Smoot half of Mump and Smoot, an act he created along with Michael Kennard. The award-winning Canadian clown duo has delighted audiences throughout North America for the past 22 years. Turner also runs The Clown Farm, a school for aspiring stage characters on Manitoulin Island.

“For us, John is synonymous with clown,” Cusson said. “If he wasn't directing, we probably wouldn't do this show.”

Turner has worked with the girls for nearly a decade, beginning when they were theatre students at Laurentian University. He said their latest work is “a playful reflection of a hideous state of affairs.”

Cusson said the show was never meant to provide answers — instead, it is meant to bring light to a dark situation.

In the Icelandic language, “fara lifa” means “go ahead and let live.” The attitude leads to ruin when a society's economic institutions embrace it, showcasing the irresponsibility of modern society.

“This show is loaded with actual fact stuff,” Turner said.

Because of the mature nature of the content, and the clown's characters, Cusson said the show is definitely not for children. If the topic of global economic crisis isn't above young audiences, the duo's trip to the Black Magic Museum and the Icelandic Phallological Museum certainly would be.

That being said, adults from all backgrounds will appreciate the final product, according to Turner. He said the clowns do an excellent job of playing with language, melding English, French and Icelandic languages.

“They're so expressive,” Turner said. “You won't even notice it is bilingual.”

Their on-stage enthusiasm is met by a unique soundtrack pieced together by Dan Bédard, backup acting by Denys Tremblay, set design by Rénald Ouellette, staged by Jenn Blanchet and lit by Francis Tousignant.

The show, put on by La Slague and Productions Roches brûlées, takes the stage at the Ernie Checkeris Theatre at Thorneloe University Dec. 14, 15, 20 and 21 at 8 p.m.

Tickets cost $20 for adults and $15 for students and seniors by phoning 705-525-5606 ext. 4, visiting the TNO box office at 21 Lasalle Blvd. or online at www.letno.ca.

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