How do clowns get pregnant? There is no obvious punch line for Little Parts, a clown who has always been pregnant, yet who is not sure if she’ll ever give birth. It seems they don’t have sex education at clown school. One thing is for sure: this clown is on a verge of a mental breakdown. She urgently needs a Baby-Daddy for the Maybe-Baby, but how to find one?
Subtle, intelligent clownery for an adult audience
Like any smart clown Little Parts harnesses the Internet and writes out a detailed questionnaire to screen out the suitable candidates. No one with a graduate degree (too clever and in debt) or a dry sense of humour (she is a clown after all). Eventually she narrows the applicants down to six, all with some alarming shortcomings: a suspicious childhood trauma, using a tiny cursive font, multilingualism, electrical engineering degree, working at Target, or just remaining silent.
Of course, Little Parts has her own baggage, too. She still has major emotional issues with her divorced parents, dreads to check her mailbox for birthday greetings and has to remind herself to be kinder to her self. Life is a constant struggle with clown logic and mommy brain. Something many of us non-clowns can easily relate to.
Little Parts is subtle, intelligent clownery for an adult audience. It manages to be funny, sad and thought provoking all at once. The performance is staged in a very familiar Covid-era production format: everything happens on screen without a single camera angle movement or much editing. The nuanced, subtle approach works beautifully in the close-up online environment. At a live performance we could never examine Little Parts’ impressions as she takes stock of her life and talks to the would-be Baby-Daddies.
The story is conceived, written and performed by Ann Noble, an LA-based actor, director and performing arts educator. She also serves as a jail chaplain, which is an interesting “fun fact” for a clown. Ann Noble has dared to strip her acting down to the bare necessities: her facial expressions and tone of voice. As she stares at you with those big blue eyes, you can’t help but get sucked into her absurd world where broomsticks and toilet rolls become eligible father candidates.
Not to give away too much of the ending, Little Parts is essentially a coming of an age story, which resonates well with the modern-day issues of distorted self-image, rootlessness and societal anxiety. The 75-minute show could have been edited down to one hour for a tighter narrative, but it serves as a testament to the fact that there will always be a need for clowns. As Little Parts pointedly puts it: “Reality has always been too violent for my taste”.