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Still from SadClown420xx. Photo: Hilary Peck.

Fringe Review: @SadClown420xx

By Colin Noden on June 24, 2021

@SadClown420xx
Created by Hilary Peck & Kel MacDonald
Produced by The Precariat (Ottawa)

40m | PG | Play

@SadClown420xx guides you, using mime and familiar props, from the unconscious conditioning of your modern existence to a self-empowering “don’t give a damn, this is who I am” reality.

Hooray, SadClown is free. She’s moved away from home, and into… a bedroom? What evil genius convinced us that this live/work shoebox in the sky was healthy? Probably the same one who’s filling every contact she has with the world with promises of fitness, beauty and tranquility. For a reasonable subscription.

How many definitions of the word “sad” can you think of? SadClown, played by Hilary Peck, checks all the boxes. Hang on to that box-checking idea for a while, because I have an interactive game you can play while watching @SadClown420xx.

But first, it is important to remember that clowns don’t talk. The only words in the play come from the music that is played and SadClown’s video feed. I think one lyric from the first song “Where Is My Life? “ sets the theme.

Now comes the fun part. Just take a paper and pen and make a checkmark every time you remember doing the same thing you see SadClown do. For example, ever buy a healing crystal? Check.

Hilary Peck as SadClown. Photo provided by the artist.

You see, SadClown is not a self-indulgent depressive. She’s trying. She’s hopeful that the next thing that comes her way will be life-transforming. Diving right in and giving it her all can get pretty messy. But she’s willing to give it a go.

The play ends on an upbeat note, with SadClown literally turning her back on outside programming and finding her own groove. This is your moment to throw that checklist over your shoulder and dance like nobody’s watching.

There are some staging issues at the beginning that prevent an immediate connection with the character. This is common with many of the Fringe plays as they convert from live performances to video recording. A clown relies on a lot of facial communication and interaction with people. The full-set camera shots don’t give us that. Panning in and out, as is done later in the play, would help establish that connection from the start.

Otherwise, this was a fun and embarrassingly insightful play.


@SadClown420xx is screening at the Ottawa Fringe Festival until June 27, 2021. Tickets are pick-your-price from $12.50 to $47.50 (100% of which goes to the artists) plus a $2.50 surcharge. Visit ottawafringe.com for streaming information and the complete festival lineup. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe. Shows are on-demand, however the festival’s ticketing platform can take up to 12 hours to email the streaming link. So although there’s no risk of online shows selling out, your best bet is to buy tickets early!