A&E » Arts

Clown leads audience on roller coaster ride



What: Burnt Tongue; A One Woman Comedy Show

Where: Millennium Place

When: Jan. 25, 8 p.m.

If laughter’s the best medicine, there’s a doctor in the house.

A clown actually, in the form of Izzy, a red-nosed, white-faced character in a Cinderella wedding dress, who waits in vain for a blind date she met on the Internet. Not to jump the gun, she shows up in formal garb, and worries about promptness, lateness, and other date woes.

Burnt Tongue is a one woman comedy show from Shannan Calcutt, who was born in Indian Head, Sask. Calcutt is a multifaceted performer. She works as a fire-eater, writer, and teacher, in addition to her improv roles.

The show, co-written by Sue Morrison, has been running since 1999 to enthusiastic audiences. The format is about 60 per cent scripted, and 40 per cent improv.

"When you’re acting you play a character, but as the clown I play the audience, and the show really takes people on a roller coaster," says Calcutt.

Audiences sometimes have a hard time distinguishing the show from real life. Calcutt has recounted several times the story of an elderly couple who approached her after one show, placed their hand on her shoulder and said she was a pretty girl and not to worry as they too, had met on a blind date.

"It’s funny, because I find now people really are dating off the Internet. In Canada there’s a site called lavalife.com that people seem to use," adds Calcutt.

After obtaining an acting degree from UVIC, Calcutt studied clowning for eight months at the International School of Physical Theatre, the only one of its kind in North America, based in Northern California.

Burnt Tongue is produced with Kelly Finnegan of Pkf Productions, a production company established in 1995. The company’s mandate is to challenge the boundaries of theatrical expression through its addressing of such issues as AIDS and the plight of the homeless.

Calcutt won Best Female Performer Award at the 2000 Vancouver Fringe Festival, and the same accolade at the 1999 and 2000 Victoria Fringe Festivals.

For information and tickets call the Millennium Place box office at 604-935-8418. Tickets are $23 the day of the performance, $18 in advance. Youth under age 18 are $7, or families can attend for $40.