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Legit Reviews: Avner The Eccentric

20 February 1991

Avner Eisenberg’s one-man show at the Westwood Playhouse is called “Avner The Eccentric,” but it could just as easily be called Avner The Clown, The Mime, The Juggler, The Magician or The Eclectic. Most of all, he is Avner The Entertainer.

His is a style that draws together elements of commedia dell’arte, farce, Emmet Kelly clowning, Chaplinesque routines, mugging a la Harpo Marx, and an ability to interact with an audience born of years as a street performer.

Sporting a bulbous red nose, baggy pants and floppy hat, Eisenberg works almost entirely in silence, seamlessly wending his way from one humorous skit or trick to another. But in the tradition of the best mimes and clowns, his body language communicates a world of unspoken dialog.

He is agile and ingenious in his use of body humor -- particularly with his eyes. His juggling, while not at the master level, is imaginative, as are the sleight-of-hand tricks and magic illusions.

But most of all, Eisenberg is an accomplished clown who is exceptionally adept at reacting to, and playing off anything that happens in his audience. A crying child, a late arrival, a loud cough, can be instantly worked into the routine, and in some cases the unsuspecting individual may find him or herself roped in as part of the show.

Playi ng off the type of sorrowful demeanor that made Chaplin’s “Little Tramp” so sympathetic, Eisenberg creates a strong sense of rapport with his audience. He pokes fun at them, he uses them, but in the end always lets them know they are appreciated. And it is this overriding sense of warmth and good feeling, like Chaplin’s, that pervades his character and his antics.

For anyone seeking a bit of playful diversion in these times of stress, “Avner The Eccentric” may offer the perfect solution.

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