Sunday, July 2, 2023

"Atomic Comic" ★ ★ ★

Once George Maguire, Maureen McVerry and Sharon Gless hit the video, Atomic Comic comes to life. Before that, we are in a scary situation. While Sarah Phykitt's scenic design looks intriguing, the clowns cavorting on stage seem confused and the slapstick slaps with little stick.

Perhaps this is the point -- that the life of a clown is difficult in the best of times and the pandemic has made it worse. Agent Willem (Maguire) has booked the three clowns (Sara Toby Moore, DeMarcello Funes and Colin H. Johnson) into a dead-end gig in Chowchilla (something to do with marshmallows) but even that gets canceled. Then, Moore's father dies. And her marriage breaks up. Oh, and cancer.

Aha! NOW we've got someone to root for. Poor clown. grumpy agent, vermouth-pouring partner (McVerry) and sharply entertaining analyst (Gless) arrive on the video backdrop and things start making sense. Sharon Shao plays an off-her-meds social worker who says she hates clowns but is clearly angling for her red nose.

There are some truly hysterical bits, notably the Kaiser Permanente sequences and the spectacular opera takeoff. That one alone is worth the price of admission. There are a few songs as well. Moore is a terrific singer. 

Honestly, though, it's a slog through that beginning. 

We would like to know where Kenna Lindsay (Props Fabrication) got all those suitcases.


The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division has had to pause before rating "Atomic Comic." The great bits are Four Star stuff, but they are bits, not show. For the most part the clowning is just a few rems above a yawn. We love the story, once we get to it. Kudos to Z-Space for taking a chance with a show that has heart. We feel it has a chance to develop into something special. 

"Atomic Comic"


450 Florida Street, San Francisco

Through July 8


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