Thursday, September 07, 2006

New York: "Creation: A Clown Show!"

Doesn't this look swell? Wonder if this guy travels...

God Speaks, and a Clown Answers, in 'Creation: A Clown Show!"
New York Times review by Anita Gates, August 11 2006

Two things could but shouldn’t hold adults back from seeing “Creation: A Clown Show!,” which opened last night at Theater Five. While the events take place during the seven days in which the Bible says God created the world, there is nothing narrowly religious about it. Evolutionists who welcome metaphor will be amused. And though the word “clown” is in the title, it doesn’t mean Ringling Brothers style.

The only circuslike element of Lucas Caleb Rooney’s wardrobe is a red rubber nose. But as an accessory to his patched jacket, ragged shorts, bow tie, horizontally striped red knee socks and the long-stemmed daisy in his lapel, it doesn’t really stand out.

Mr. Rooney plays a little boy named Timmy who stumbles into a situation in which he has to act out the Creation as instructed by the booming offstage voice of God (Samuel Stricklen). It’s tough. How do you divide the light from the darkness? And what the heck is a firmament?

It gets tougher and funnier. On the fifth day God creates life in the seas. Timmy pretends to be a whale and ends up doing a condensed version of “Moby-Dick.” The real trouble comes later in the fifth day when God creates “winged fowl.” The act becomes literally gooey when Timmy releases what he thinks is a little bird into the air. (Oops, it was a raw egg.) When he hatches a dozen adorable yellow marshmallow Peeps, things get even uglier for Timmy, who disobeys God and ends up screaming, “I hate myself!”

Mr. Rooney has been compared to Red Skelton, and he does exhibit Skelton’s combination of goofiness and heartwarming sweetness. But his innocence is even more childlike. Near the beginning, when Timmy settles into the audience thinking he is going to see a show rather than be one, Mr. Rooney, directed by Orlando Pabotoy (with whom he conceived the production), seems more like Will Ferrell in the movie “Elf.”

But his childlike post-Creation persona is all his own, especially when he puts his message in perspective with a poignant final visual. However it got here, he demonstrates, life on earth was a swell idea. It would be the crime of all crimes to destroy it.

“Creation: A Clown Show!” continues through Sept. 10 at Theater Five, 311 West 43rd Street, Clinton, (212) 868-4444.

(Thanks, Diane!)

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