by Morgan Lindsey Tachco · August 15, 2014
In The Anger in Ernest and Ernestine, the title characters are newlyweds and have just moved in together. These two clowns – no, really – they’re clowns – move into a ‘cozy’ basement apartment, complete with a burping, broken furnace and vacant landlord, but nothing can deter their honeymoon period! You can probably guess what happens next; the quirks they found cute about one another in the beginning become scourges of humanity later on. A tea bag left in the pot becomes, “Why are you trying to kill me??” and so on. They try a multitude of remedies to navigate their anger – suppression, yoga, crossfit, meditation, screaming and sex, to name a few, before finally accepting each other, warts and all, and settling in to a comfortable state of domestic bliss.
I am remiss to call a production ‘cute,’ for fear of some of the negative connotations it may arise, but this show is, in fact, cute. Adorable, actually, and highly enjoyable. A few of the jokes border on ‘obvious’ (a Fifty Shades of Grey joke, for example) and are not really my cup of tea, and I would have liked to see more traditional choreographed clowning to further highlight some of the more ridiculous aspects of cohabitation, but the charismatic and endearing performances made it worthwhile.
Kathy Huynh-Phan as Ernestine and Peter Wallace as Ernest are delightfully (pardon me) earnest in their commitment to the representational over the top physicality, and they never tire in their attempts to allow the grounded subtext to shine. Director Lizzy Beth Elkins moves the piece along at breakneck pace, allowing their performances to have a lovely tongue and check aspect to the ancient, often baffling story of human cohabitation.