mump & smoot in flux written by Michael Kennard and John Turner, directed by Karen Hines, with Kennard, Turner and Scott Macdonald. Presented by Mump & Smoot at the Berkeley Street Mainspace (26 Berkeley). Previews May 24-25 and 28, opens May 29 and runs to June 23, Wednesday-Sunday 8 pm. $20-$30. 416-368-3110.
Mump & Smoot's latest show is called In Flux, and that describes their creators' lives perfectly. The horror clown duo, known to their parents as Michael Kennard (Mump) and John Turner (Smoot), aren't sure where they're living, their studio space is in jeopardy and they're battling rumours that this new show could be their last.
What? M&S putting away their red noses for good?
"Part of me can't imagine not doing Mump & Smoot again," sighs Turner, aka Smoot, the runty, chatty one onstage.
"I mean, maybe we'll end up doing shows in wheelchairs with acrobats behind us to make it look interesting. But we've also evolved and grown, and not everything includes each other."
Turner just got married and bought a place on Manitoulin Island, seven hours from Toronto. Kennard bought a place three hours south. The duo are getting older. It's harder to clown around -- literally and figuratively -- as you near your late 40s.
"We can still do everything we could, but the recovery time is longer," says Turner. "We also can't do eight shows a week. If we do two shows a day, both audiences get ripped off. Either we'd be saving for the second show, or we'd go into it dead."
The new show opens with the clowns on a camping trip. They're seeking some balance in their hectic lives, a sense of spiritual renewal that only nature brings.
"This show may be the closest to what Mike and I actually seek in our personal lives," says Turner. "It's a great Canadian and North American theme."
The wilderness trip ultimately evolves -- or maybe that should be devolves -- into a fight for survival. And, as in all M&S shows, what happens is a result of the characters.
Kennard and Turner, who met in Second City workshops, mounted their first show 14 years ago this month. Through it all, they've never grafted socio-political themes onto their work.
"I don't think a clown can help but go into that territory, though," says Turner. "But we don't do it consciously. Our shows are based on what's bugging us, what we love, what's going on in our lives, the relationship between Mike and John, between them and the community, and where we want to see Mump and Smoot going.
"And for the new show, it's going to be pretty hard not to mention the Leafs."
Prior to the show, which arrives in town this week after a western tour, the two hadn't performed their cult- fave alter egos in a year and a half, except to do a one-off at the Canadian Comedy Awards. Both are in demand as directors and teachers.
"We re-evaluate what we're doing at least once a year. There's no question," says Turner with an ironic pause, "that one of our shows will be our last."email@example.com