500 Clown at Steppenwolf

500 Clown at Steppenwolf500 Clown (it is obligatory to pause at this point in any review of the company and note that there are only three of them*) are bringing two of their pieces — 500 Clown Macbeth and 500 Clown Frankenstein to the Steppenwolf Upstairs Theater (1650 N Halsted) through July 29, 2007.

Reviews of both shows after the jump:

I saw 500 Clown Macbeth in 2004 at the Lookingglass Theater, and it’s probable the show has changed since that incarnation — 500 Clown consider each show a constantly evolving structure. (500 Clown (sings) Christmas Carol(s) changed enough the course of its initial run that the group felt the need to change the name of the show.) If nothing else, the much larger Steppenwolf space is likely to change the feel of the show. But I will say that the show I saw back then was amazing. Three clowns attempt to perform Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Their attempt goes horribly awry, but that going-awry captures the essential nature of the original play. The show also features some of the most heart-stopping physical work I’ve ever seen. The 500 Clown motto is ‘Risk’ — they believe that by placing themselves in situations where they feel genuine risk (emotional or physical — but usally physical) they can communicate with the audience an immediate and genuine reaction. They can, if you’ll pardon the pop-speak, share a moment.

The 500 Clown Frankenstein I saw this last weekend was a bit sillier than Macbeth, but it did have its moments of emotional power. Oddly, the piece has quite a bit of the original text in it but seems to spend a lot of time just getting started as the three clowns set up the space and argue over who will be “The Body”. About two-thirds of the way through there seemed to be an abrupt change of pace, as if they realized they needed to get back on track if they were going to complete the Frankenstein story at all. After that disconnect, though, there’s a section that starts out silly and ends up holding a harsh mirror on the audience. There was a moment (there’s that word again) where I felt as if I had been punched in the gut, and felt like I deserved it.

The two shows are running on alternate weeks on Thursday, Friday, and Sunday. Saturdays both shows are performed, one at 5 pm and one at 9 pm, also alternating which one is in which slot.

* Plus their director, set designer, etc. Still, much less than 500.

1 Comment so far

  1. iLe (unregistered) on June 25th, 2007 @ 5:54 pm

    I saw them this St too, and I absolutely loved them I felt like a child all over again, what hey do is so simple and yet so complicated…

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