Red Tape can’t be held entirely accountable for their sweltering space, which is like bikram yoga without the yoga. But the finger can be pointed at them for their curious and slightly amusing — yet ultimately slight — 55 minute performance piece that features a dirty clown posse called Les Enfants Terribles.
I’ve never seen Les Enfants Terribles perform before (I gather it’s a relatively new group made up of six recent Roosevelt University Theatre Conservatory graduates), but they have some pretty impressive things to say about themselves in the press notes:
“Les Enfants is a unique blend of physical theatre in flash spectacle that engages audiences in new and daring ways. This blend draws from the influences that made Chicago the theatre capital of the United States: improvisation, clown, and theater focused on public engagement . . . We are the present tense of the play that exists in Chicago.“
Wow! Not sure I quite got all that. To me, their style is like Blue Man group, but in lumpy brown body suits with a bit more danger thrown in. And where Blue Man plays drums to express themselves, Les Enfants Terribles sings fragments of top 40 pop tunes.
The set-up is promising: when you enter Red Tape’s gymnasium-like space, it’s gaudily decorated to resemble a quintessential high school prom. An over-eager couple (the shoe-in for prom king and queen), greet you at the door, and urge you to dance to songs like the “Macarena.” (And I totally would have if I wasn’t sitting in a pool of my own sweat.)
Then, just before prom king and queen are announced, Les Enfants Terribles scuttle in, like a six-headed alien insect, and take over things for the remainder of the evening. Be prepared for weird.
Look: I generally enjoy off-the-wall stuff like this. While each member of this group shows great commitment to their odd characterizations, I’m not entirely sure what Les Infants’ point of view — as a whole — is. Are they harmless eccentrics or dangerously disenfranchised outsiders who can’t operate in normal society? Does it matter? And why were the three normal prom kids absent from the action for so long? It would have been fun seeing them interact more with this bizarro group. The prom setup offers a playground of possibilities for this grotesque ensemble, which I’m not sure was used to the fullest effect.
This is a unique idea that could be taken much further. Currently, it’s jut a slight curiosity.
“Les Enfants Terribles – Prom Night” plays through August 14 at Red Tape Theatre. More information here >