‘Fruithead’ inventive, provocative

Gordon Jones
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‘Definitely not for the kiddies’

Sara Tilley, in character as “Fruithead.” She earned a standing ovation during the opening night of the show, billed as a clown show for adult audiences. —Telegram file photo

I am a word person. I like nouns and verbs, adjectives and adverbs. So I am not, perhaps, the ideal audience for mime. It was therefore with some trepidation that I attended the Wednesday-night opening at the LSPU Hall of Sara Tilley’s “Fruithead,” a clown show for adult audiences.

The set is an irregular red sheet representing a tropical island, complete with dwarf palm tree. Wrapped in an orange, balloon-filled bag, Tilley’s nameless clown struggles to free herself and gradually emerges. The clown coos and shouts and howls and barks; but she has no intelligible language. She plays with balloons, caressing and manipulating them, sometimes innocently, sometimes phallically. She weeps, she laughs: Tilley’s resilient clown has a full emotional range, from glee to apprehension, from cheerful naivete through puzzlement to full-force rage.

She is not alone on the island. While she sleeps, with dreamlike back-projection, an abstract, faceless, male spirit (Mark White) intermittently glides speechlessly in and out, adjusting set and props, bearing utilitarian or decorative gifts and supplies for the castaway.

“Fruithead” is an eerie, oddball experience, showcasing Tilley’s miming expertise and her phenomenal emotional range. Inventive and provocative, the play is at times seriously weird and overtly sexual and perhaps a little scary. Definitely not for the kiddies.

Created and performed by Sara Tilley, assisted by Mark White, “Fruithead,” an adult clown show, continues at the LSPU Hall until Sunday, starting at 8 p.m. and lasting 80 minutes.

The moderate-sized opening-night audience expressed its appreciation of the show and of Tilley’s performance with a standing ovation at the curtain call.

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