REVIEW: Les Enfants Terribles: Prom Night (Red Tape)

Well, that was weird.

 

 Les enfants Terrible - Prom Night postcard

   
Red Tape Theatre presents
  
Les Enfants Terribles: PROM NIGHT
   
Directed by Keland Scher
at
St. Peter’s Church, 621 W. Belmont, FL2 (map)
through August 14  |  tickets: $10-$20  |  more info

reviewed by Oliver Sava

Welcome to Senior Prom. In the sweltering St. Peter’s gymnasium, Susie Summers (Amanda Beth Miller) urges people to get on the dance floor while Eugene Shortz (Jonathan Helvey) takes pictures of couples sitting in a giant diorama of a half moon. The mood is jovial, the punch is free, and the King and Queen are about to be announced. And then the Les Enfants Terribles appear.

A clown troupe in the style of French bouffons, the dirty, deformed Les Enfants bring chaos to the controlled environment, working as a unit to desecrate all the innocent traditions of high school proms. Physical violence, sexual deviance, and a cappella arrangements of pop hits are primary method of communication for the gang, and the appeal of Prom Night lies in seeing what level of depravity they will sink to next, although the sequence with the panties is up there on the disturbing meter.

Les Enfants Terribles

As there isn’t much in the way of a story to latch onto, the humor arises out of the unnerving situations the clowns create for the audience. The talent behind Les Enfants Terribles cannot be denied. These men have amazing control of their bodies and voices, creating sounds and images that are both hilarious and creepy. Their timing is impeccable, and they clearly have a rapport that allows them to move as one and create on the fly without stumbling. Their initial entrance as a malformed brown mass moaning and wheezing as it shuffles across the floor sets the mood perfectly, preparing the audience for the bizarre experience to follow.

The weird factor of Prom Night may be a little too high for some people, and for the first ten minutes it seemed like the audience was reluctant to laugh at the action on stage. The a cappella pop music, as odd as it is, served to make the audience more comfortable with the wackiness onstage, and if that is the intended effect then bravo to Red Tape. The maybe-story of which clown will be Prom King to Mother’s (Casey Kells) Prom Queen doesn’t really provide much in the way of emotional resonance, but it sets up some fun gags spotlighting their clowning prowess. The overambitious final sequence was plagued with technical issues at the performance I attended, but the dark conclusion of the play overshadowed it with pitch black comic absurdity. As bizarre as the experience is, it’s worth going back to high school for Les Enfants Terribles: PROM NIGHT.

   
   
Rating: ★★★
   
   

    
     

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