Klown: Prick Us and We'll Burst | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Klown: Prick Us and We'll Burst 

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As much as I relish the clever way Die Hanswurste tricked certain members of the press into believing their ragtag group of American comic actors were really handpicked representatives of a fictional school of German "clown performance art," I have two regrets about their September show. One, their hoax overshadowed what was really a fine evening of intelligent physical comedy--a rare thing at a time when slapstick is associated more with drooling fools like Jerry Lewis and the Three Stooges than with such masters as Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Jacques Tati. And two, their show ran just one weekend, meaning only a few friends and members of the press got to see these tricksters at work. Happily, Die Hanswurste have revived their evening of dark comedy for a monthlong run at the Organic Theater. Their show draws mostly from English and American sources, including Harpo Marx, Spike Jones, Samuel Beckett, and Monty Python. But these four comedians also use stereotypical Germanic character traits--sadistic authoritarianism, sniveling masochism, a willingness to mindlessly follow insane orders--to satirize the scariest aspects of our highly organized, thoroughly bureaucratized, increasingly dehumanized postindustrial society. And they're funny, too! At the Organic Theater Company Greenhouse, South Hall, 3319 N. Clark, 327-5588. Through February 4: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8PM. $10-12.

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