| The Tender Dynamo - Clown and Artist,|
Tired Macho & Funny Romantic:
Tom Murphy's Performance
at the New Theatre Hoechst
| By PETER PETERS|
Tom Murphy not only is a self-described little explosion on a ladder, but also a minor revelation. He accomplishes a synthesis of stupendous agility, world class vaudeville, magical play of the audience, and irresistibly funny entertainment; being from Vermont, and the "Best Clown" at the Paris Circus Festival, Cirque de Demain, and recognizing that Germany might just be the place to be, supports the synthesis even more. And, when eight- to twelve-minute performances no longer satisfy.
He builds an artful performance out of his vaudeville acts some of which must have taken years of practice to perfect. Murph not only rages ON stage, but also OFF stage, by diving into the audience to solicit help; and, since he always seems to trip on the last step he definitely needs help. Just stand there and hold the unicycle like this, he asks a woman and before she knows he's on the unicycle, carrying her on his shoulders.
Murph fights chairs and floors with his bones. He catches us taking delight in his clumsiness and stage misfortunes, but seems to redeem us at the same time. An audience member is allowed to kiss the bump on his head and, thank God, the escapades on stage are bringing only fictitious pains.
It's a game with a human side, especially when the American brings up his favorite topic, masculinity and the male, and tired of being macho. He shuffles stiffly across the stage in comical bodybuilding mode, posing until the muscles in his face become an extension of his biceps.
Ironically, he possesses the body of a model athlete. Don't be fooled! Tom Murphy is also full of tenderness, warmth, and compassion: an artist who does not use comedy at the expense of his audience. During frantically requested encores, he showed that he is used to a full evening program. He didn't have any more material and needed to rely on age-old tricks, he said.
In the end, he actually told jokes about ducks in an apothecary and then explained the punch line. This guy has the caliber for first-rate vaudeville.