Guruguru is a uniquely unsettling, engaging, and profound clown show. It opens with an offstage shout: "Happiness?" a voice asks. The next sixty minutes unfold from this question, as Guruguru, the strange creature created by Andre Tuells, lumbers, creeps, and runs through the space, alternately teaching and poking fun at the audience as he wrestles with what it is that we are striving for as humans.
This is often-explored territory, and in the hands of a less skilled artist, such a show could easily become watered-down philosophy or a pedantic lecture. But Tuells knows his craft, and he knows when to trust his expert physicality and remarkably resonant voice to hint at deeper things, rather than spell them out for the audience.
Tuells is a bouffon, or bouffont clown, a discipline that explores and embraces the grotesque. Guruguru is a creature of instinct and appetite, operating without inhibition or embarrassment.
He shouts, shrieks, and wails, grins and grimaces, and works himself into a frenzy. He happily ignores the fourth wall, moving through the audience to ask questions, offer hugs and life advice, and pick bugs out of people's hair.
This is perhaps the closest the show comes to a misstep, as there came a few points where it was unclear whether Tuells was correctly reading the comfort levels of audience members he had chosen. But of course, such an affront to our North American sensibilities is exactly the point of bouffon clown.
The technical aspects of the show were expertly handled. Tuells makes excellent use of props and costuming without going overboard, and the venue's technician also deserves credit for precisely executing the show's many light cues, especially for the opening performance of this show.
This is expert physical theatre, and the Hamilton Fringe is lucky to have Tuells.
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