Presented by NACS Productions
The subtly skewed, awkwardly relatable world of Inside Ethel: Outside is a lovely place to find yourself. This is a clown show created and performed by Christine Moynihan. Ethel is old. Her gawky bearing betrays some sort of trauma. She’s brave though. Her anxiety will not stop her from engaging with the world. And her attitude throughout is very entertaining.
I have a deep affection for this art form. I revel in the mundane realities of life drawn out and examined in absurdly cumbersome antics. Appreciating Ethel’s plight requires a taste for clowning. Just getting out the front door with her cart is a protracted and fraught endeavour.
With a letter from her son and a crude map, she tries to make her way to his house, but is constantly thwarted by some spacial abnormality, perceptual tick or just plain bad luck. She deals with each of these obstacles with steadfast determination and endearingly convoluted reasoning.
Moynihan mines every object Ethel encounters for intriguing, inventive re-contextualization. It’s usually very funny, often bizarre, sometimes quite sad.
She is guided in her journey by a mystical figure. Katherine Duncanson, with twinkling lights around her neck, is an ethereal presence—protective and encouraging. She provides quirky assistance through subtle acts of magic.
This is set during early pandemic lockdown. The world Ethel struggles to negotiate is empty, eerie, and alienating. She happens upon surgical masks and can’t quite figure out what to make of them. It is nice to see her take comfort in her cart of possessions—stuffed toys and a tub of peanut butter. And it’s satisfying to see her take fortifying swigs from her bottle of rum.
I’m very glad to have met Ethel. I hope to encounter her again sometime. I’m invested now.