Hearts in the Sky: “Beau & Aero”

The luck of the Fringe is finding delightful surprises — new art, new artists, who renew your hope for theatre.

One such gift is Beau & Aero.

Amica Hunter, David Cantor

Amica Hunter, David Cantor

I met Amica Hunter at the kosher food wagon in Fringe Central, grabbing a quick meal between shows.  She waved me over to sit with her and David Cantor, and they invited me to their show.

Two nights later, at The Complex, I sat among three dozen laughing, cheering people getting happily high on inspired, glorious clowning.

The two present a pair of would-be aviators, the slightly pompous Beau (Cantor) and the innocent, indomitable Aero (Hunter), proudly wearing World War I outfits.  They fly through air — or try to — with the greatest of unease, on a wish and a balloon, blending the gentle sweetness of Laurel & Hardy with the romantic tension of Tracy and Hepburn.

Hapless but hopeful, Beau and Aero keep things elegantly simple (take that, Cirque du Spectacle).  Playing inventively with balloons, parachutes, and juggling clubs, they mock, mug and mope with non-stop energy. They also play on each other, their aerobatic acrobatics making us almost believe they — and we — really can fly.

And they do it all without words.  Though they do allow themselves some telling sounds — eager airplane noises, Aero’s frustrated mutterings, and an eloquent sequence of pfft‘s with which Beau tries to shrug off her angry departure.

Beau & Aero made a tired late-night audience fall in love, laughing and cheering, tossing balloons back and forth, roaring with joy at the end and spilling into the lobby still laughing.  That’s a theatre experience you don’t often get to be a part of.

The two also gave me back my love of clowning.  I’d been put off as a child by scary hobo drunks (Emmett Kelly, Red Skelton) and violence (the Three Stooges).  But this delightful duo reconnected me with the gentle, witty, playfulness I stayed up late to watch (Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Laurel & Hardy, Danny Kaye), and the delicate artistry I gasped at when I saw Marcel Marceau live.

Beau & Aero have flown south for the summer, to San Diego’s Fringe.  After that, the two — who trained at San Francisco’s famed Clown Conservatory — will spend a year at the Gaulier clown school in France.  Cross your fingers and hope they land here again soon.

Beau & Aero, created by David Cantor and Amica Hunter.
At the the Dorie Theatre in The Complex, 6476 Sana Monica Blvd.