Capital Fringe Review: ‘The Clocks’ by Grace Kim

The Clocks is quite a sensory experience and full of creativity and imagination. You’ll experience visuals, sounds, actions and activity that are all layered upon each other to tell the story in a way that might leave some folks wondering what the fuck is going on, but for me it was in a good and excited way. I appreciate theatre that pushes limits and comes up with performances that are intriguing to the viewer. And for this and several reasons, I enjoyed The Clocks and applaud the Not A Robot Theatre Company’s vision and efforts and look forward to seeing future productions.

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The Clocks is written by Jason Patrick Wells, who also hails as designer and actor, and is directed by Jacy Barber, also designer and actor and masterful puppeteer. Both Jason Wells and Jacy Barber were great at literally playing multiple roles from sound engineer, to puppeteer, both acting and not while changing props and sets but none of it distracting in any sort of way, rather it all fused together as though part of the performance. It was an unexpected surprise to see such display of talent. The use of the pre-recorded soundtrack, projected visuals onto the props and back walls, and props –most of which were made out of cardboard– along with the puppetry revealed artistry and skill that few have.

I did find myself thinking the stage could’ve been higher, maybe on a slightly elevated platform, to help the audience see what was happening better and to help better showcase some of the detailed actions and activity, particularly with the puppet. Also, the dates that are projected at various times mark important moments but they lacked cohesion and did not lend concrete support to the story, creating more bewilderment than understanding.

If you want to enjoy a talented performance by a couple of skilled creatives, go see The Clocks. I found myself startled when it ended and wishing it went on for a little bit longer.

Running Time: 40 minutes though the website lists as 70 minutes.

The Clocks plays through July 28, 2013 at The Studio Theatre – Stage 4, 1501 14th Street NW in Washington D.C. For performance times and to purchase tickets, visit the show’s Capital Fringe page.



  1. I feel that his review is trying to find good where I saw only poor theatre craftsmanship. This show is a misguided attempt at conveying complex feelings through a dramatic setting and careful actions. Rather than leading the audience on a journey of discovery and self / life examination it resulted in an embarrassed and giggling audience, 10 of whom walked out.
    As a drama teacher I have experience with avant garde theatre and tried very hard to see this show from various perspectives before I finally realized “The emperor has no clothes on!” it is, in fact, a poorly written, designed and acted production. The actors were lacking and in any charisma (made only worse when at one point they had a technical issue and Jason Wells loudly admonished Jacy on stage). Additionally, the staging was seriously poorly conceived. As stated above, not considering the lines of sight on the stage for the puppeteering was a freshman drama student error and was, for me, the definition of this show. This show completely missed it’s mark due to too much focus on being trying to be deep and meaningful through it’s repetition of pointless actions, bland props, tediously overly dramatic puppetry and distracting over emphasis on mundane actions like changing the voice over / sound effects.
    Do not waste your time or money if you would like to be either entertained or challenged from a new perspective on life. If, on the other hand, you are a fan of ‘The Office’ and wish to sit in a room and be be embarrassed for actors then this is the show for you.

    • Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. It is interesting, though, that a drama teacher would be so at odds with not just this review, but with Capital Fringe itself. For as you know by now, The Clocks received the top prize at the 2013 Capital Fringe Festival, The Director’s Award.

      It is worth asking: why would a drama teacher go so out of his way to leave such a long, negative comment to a positive review?


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