Volume 96, Issue 97
Wednesday, April 2, 2003

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THEATRE REVIEW: Izzy works best intimately

Burnt Tongue
Starring: Shannan Calcutt
Directed by: Sue Morrison



By Katy James
Gazette Staff

Gazette file photo
SHORTLY AFTER KILLING FLAVA FLAV, IZZY DISPLAYS HER NEW CLOCK. Izzy the clown filled the Grand with laughter and a little fear.

For those people who have ever felt like a clown in the often hilarious world of dating, there's now a show that puts this feeling onstage.

Canadian actress Shannan Calcutt graced the stage at The Grand Theatre last week as Izzy the clown in her one-woman show Burnt Tongue.

Simple yet creative, Calcutt's lone clown character successfully entertained the audience. Burnt Tongue is the first of the Izzy trilogy series, which also includes It's Me, Only Better and Out of My Skin.

Calcutt is a veteran of the Canadian theatre scene. She was awarded the Best Female Performer award at the 2000 Vancouver Fringe Festival and the 1999 Victoria Fringe Festival. A graduate of the Dell Arte International School of Physical Theatre and currently a student with the Institute of Canadian Clowning in Toronto, Calcutt is also well-endowed with performance credentials.

Burnt Tongue is a performance based on the waiting game of life and the roller-coaster-like thought process we're all guilty of at times. The show's simple set consists of a bench, a clock, a basket and Izzy, who waits to meet the man of her dreams for the first time. The two recently met via the Internet.

The show is a monologue of what goes through a typical woman's mind before a first date. But the show isn't just for the ladies – Izzy makes use of two gentlemen from the audience to help exemplify the male reaction to the thoughts women have in such situations. The audience participation is where the show really takes a twist – sitting in the front row is only suggested if you're ready for some intimate clown contact.

During the hour Izzy awaits her date, she repeatedly questions herself and her actions. She reassures herself through the help of the audience, asking them if they think she's pretty, and eventually convincing herself she really is the best date ever.

To truly understand the show, imagine that you could actually see and hear the pre-date thought process of a hilarious woman. Izzy gets herself completely worked up while she waits and gets the audience worked up with laughter in response to her nervous freak-outs.

We usually make use of a good friend to ease our concerns during these nerve-wrenching times; Izzy uses the audience as her confidants in a surprising and highly-entertaining way.

In the end, Izzy's date is a no-show, and like a burnt tongue, it hurts. There is pain in life; but things are always worse when we assume or expect something to happen and it doesn't.

An even better lesson for people to take out of the fantastic one-woman show is that often the roller-coaster ride we subject ourselves and the people around us to, is a vain attempt to figure ourselves out.

Izzy poses an interesting challenge when she invites the audience to go home and like her, write their own show. Burnt Tongue is a great example of finding humour in the trying times we sometimes face.


Burnt Tongue was performed at the Grand Theatre Mar. 25-29. For more information on Shannan Calcutt and her character, Izzy the Clown, visit her Web site at www.iamizzy.com.

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2002 THE GAZETTE