Walking down the narrow pathway to Trap Door Theatre’s entrance is the cheapest route from Chicago to Europe currently available. Trap Door continues its admirable commitment to presenting highlights of the historic and contemporary avant-garde with “Old Clown Wanted” by the Romanian Matei Visniec. The first half of this ingenious one-act suffers from a severe case of Beckett envy, a common affliction of work in this vein. The banter between the three desiccated old clowns waiting for an audition opportunity strikes the occasional spark (“The three of us together again—life’s a bitch”), but one keeps anticipating the arrival of Lucky and Pozzo, or maybe someone to pop out of a trash can. It doesn’t help that Alison Sinclair’s translation sounds an awful lot like a translation from the Romanian. As the play develops, though, Visniec’s originality comes to the fore with a stunning setpiece in which the clowns try to outdo one another. The appropriately named Circus Szalewski repeatedly performs a hilarious and captivating pantomime, simultaneously precise and absurd enough that it demands his running commentary. Szalewski’s rubber-faced performance is ably complemented by Bob Wilson’s menacing Peppino, reminiscent of a grouchy David Lynch patriarch. (John Beer)
This production is now closed.