When Clowns Play Hamlet


"On the surface, 'When Clowns Play Hamlet' tells the odd story of three members of a circus act who fancy themselves comedians but must live with the knowledge that they are failing clowns. They may not live much longer: The elephant of the circus has just died, and so they now have no protection from their star attraction, a panther-baboon. This vicious animal is enraged that the clowns get more laughs than he does and has a history of ripping off limbs and gouging out eyes, which is what he did to Gamina (Sara Galassini), the most vulnerable of the three clowns.

"Though subtitled 'a 1964 bitter camp' (Koutoukas called many of his plays 'camps'), there is far more bitter than campy about it, especially in the second act. Much sounds as if it could be an exercise in camp: Before she was a clown, Berliner...donned a second horse head and worked for 11 years as a professional freak. Puncho... had a mother who was also his father—a hermaphrodite."

--Jonathan Mandell, "NY Review: 'When Clowns Play Hamlet'," Backstage, June 2, 2012. (http://www.backstage.com/review/ny-theater/off-off-broadway/ny-review-when-clowns-play-hamlet/)