Schaden, Freude and You
nytheatre.com review by Ivanna Cullinan
September 11, 2009
After an initial run last summer during the Antidepressant Festival, Logic Limited, Ltd. is back at the Brick Theater with their thoroughly enjoyable Schaden, Freude and You: A 3 Clown Seminar. Concise, clever, and with sly energy, this show will draw you in and is an utter delight. No worries, there are no overstuffed small cars or big feet here. This is definitely clown theatre for adults and you will not miss the elephants one bit.
The show actually starts pre-seminar as Stuart Plain & Tall (Brad Frazier) and Haagen (David Graham Jones) hurry in to set it all up. That by itself could be a show, as certain props almost take on full character in their interaction and certainly have a stage presence of note. Largely silent, these two skillful and enjoyable performers push the boundaries of the possible nicely and exploit/create the mayhem of meeting setup.
When Philip (Chris Arruda), the Schadenfreude guru for this event, arrives to wrangle it all into a seminar proper, there is a definite and interesting shift in the performance. Garrulous almost to the extreme, Philip injects a needed irritant, providing a new energy and becoming both an antagonistic focus (especially for Haagen) and an agent of change that takes them into a more vocal and percolating place.
As they seek to explain their method beyond the Happy Song, they move into a demonstration of great hilarity as both Stuart Plain & Tall and Haagen experience levels of self-inflicted pain in effort to make Schadenfreude clear. The term "schadenfreude" evidently refers to "largely unanticipated delight in the suffering of another." On a base level, it could be said to be that is why people find someone falling down funny, but that doesn't quite catch it. It is more that the person who falls but will get back up, can get back up, but may make a ridiculous mess of it while trying to do so—that is what strikes a chord of laughter. That is the mess that allows and creates delight, which—okay—certainly can be increased when one is not all so very fond of or happy with the individual experiencing the frustration, but is not absolutely required. In this instance, it just might cause some members of the cast delight and their delight combines with that of the audience and a circuit of amusement begins.
And there is more than that at play here: stories are told, props win certain battles, and yet they soldier on, seeking to bring the schadenfreude experience to all. Within a sound structure created with director Jane Nichols, the performers have made a thing that allows infinite variety without meandering and boring. Occasionally they balance on the edge of being present in the theatrical and the real senses, but they never lose out to the banality of the real. It is a skillful, intelligent, sly, and enchanting event.
As part of the Amuse Bouche, a NY Clown Theater Festival, at the Brick Theater, Schaden, Freude and You: A 3 Clown Seminar is a damn fine course.