Veteran clowns of Theatre Smith-Gilmour take The Assholes to task

Ben Ross

Staff Writer

Theatre Smith-Gilmour has done it again. The Toronto-based Bouffon troupe has a long history of creating hilarious, thought-provoking work and The Assholes, playing as part of the Toronto Festival of Clowns, is no exception. From the concept, to the design, to every actor’s performance, this is a company at the top of their game. 

If you’ve ever gaped incredulously at the antics of the elite, wondering how they can possibly sleep at night, wonder no more. The Assholes shines a spotlight on the ravings, justifications and hypocritical diatribes of this small group.

Warning: If the Toronto Festival of Clowns sounds like fun for the whole family, think again. (Unless, of course, you think little Jimmy could benefit from a thorough exploration of the world’s “pricks, dicks and assholes.” I won’t judge.)

Directed by Michelle Smith, the show consists of a parade of word-perfect and exaggerated impressions of society’s upper crust, punctuated by grotesque images of the poverty-stricken and downtrodden of the world. The effect is grounding, reminding us that while the racist, classist actions of some of the wealthiest few are ridiculous and clownish, they have very real and devastating effects upon countless unseen others. 

The entire cast of actors/collaborators – Nina Gilmour, Danya Buonastella, Marissa Zinni, and led by the inimitable Dean Gimour – is electric. Their performances are the backbone of the show and they will keep your mouth hanging open in anticipation. The characters come fast and furious, standouts including French politician Marine Le Pen, Walmart heiress Alice Walton and a hilariously-wigged Richard Branson. 

Simple spotlights and an empty stage are appropriately minimal and support the actors’ gymnastics. A few well-chosen costume elements and props are all they need to tell their story. You should know, though: the things they do with strawberries might ruin Ontario berry season for you. 

Though the festival ends soon, The Assholes will undoubtedly return. Don’t miss out when it does. 

The Assholes runs at the Toronto Festival of Clowns until June 14. For more information, visit www.theatresmithgilmour.com.