09 July 2007

500 Clown Frankenstein

After enjoying 500 Clown Macbeth so much, we got some friends together to see 500 Clown Frankenstein, also at Steppenwolf, the other night. It was a good show, but not as tight and well-composed as Macbeth. The three clowns telling the Frankenstein story all try to avoid portraying the monster (an understandably thankless job).

Regardless of its shortcomings, the show is highly entertaining; it more deeply engages with the audience than Macbeth, with multiple chases through empty and populated rows of seats, and audience members enjoined to torment the monster as it attempts to escape its fate. As with Macbeth, the clowns succeed in conveying the major themes of Mary Shelley's novel in spite of their narrative incompetence.

One key difference from the other show is that here nobody wants to be something (the monster), while in Macbeth, everybody wants to be something (king). Perhaps it is more inherently compelling to watch characters vie with each other for something they want than watch them try to avoid something they don't want.

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