Suffer Fools Gladly
  by Mark Aloysius Kenneally
 Stetson University Stover Theatre
  September-October 2009

This was a world premiere production of an original play by Stetson alumnus Mark Kenneally. Its theme was a kind of 'CSI: Circus', which puts a uniquely funny spin on the formulaic TV cop investigation dramas in the vein of 'CSI', 'Law and Order' and 'NCIS'.

Suffer Fools Gladly presents two hard-boiled homicide detectives with an unique challenge. While investigating the murder of a circus clown, the principal suspects also clowns are only able to communicate in character. Dahlia can only speak by honking a horn, Pozo rhymes her responses to police questions, and Backwards Bobo speaks in reverse. Add three more clowns, a police psychiatrist, and a surprise ending, and well, madcap adventures ensue.

Most of the play takes place inside a drab interrogation room, with color provided by the clowns and their costumes. However, during the "re-enactment scene" typical of the TV crime investigation genre the stage is transformed into a Big Top, where various whodunit theories are applied as performers ride unicycles, walk on stilts, and throw pies into each others' faces.

The surprise ending began as an improvisation by Devin O'Neill, playing one of the investigators, and was incorparated into the final version of the script. A number of rewrites were proposed and accepted by the playwright, as this script was "in development" for the rehearsal period.

We were very fortunate to enage the participation of veteran Ringling clown Alan Ware, reknown for his "Grandpa" character during his ten years with the circus. He assisted not only in the development of costumes, props, and prosthetics (lending us many specialty items along the way), but he also coached the actors in techniques of pantomime and clowning, which created a visual pantheon of characters gave the production a feel of authenticity.

curtain call with guest artist Alan Ware

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Copyright 2012 by Ken McCoy.