by Suzanne Karpinski · August 13, 2014
“Are you down with the Clown?” Ice Pete testily asks fellow friend, Hatchett. It is a question often asked and with all seriousness. Welcome to the world of Juggalos, men and women (Juggalettes) who consider themselves followers of the band Insane Clown Posse. In Juggalicious, a new play by Britton Buttrill, we are quickly immersed in this world and all its idiosyncrasies, sometimes amusing, sometimes brutal, but always refreshingly honest.
It is not just the music that bands these motley fans together, but also a higher philosophical purpose, derived from the albums and lyrics themselves. Ice Pete and Hatchett take solace from the confusion of their teenage lives by discussing and living by these ideas. Ice Pete is tested when he learns that his sick grandmother is in need of a new kidney. When the dark, tomboyish Twista scores tickets to the mecca of all fans, ‘The Gathering of the Juggalos’, tensions flare and deeper troubles beneath these devotees’ clown makeup are revealed.
The remarkably young cast (all aged 18 or 19!) adds a layer of credibility to the comic teenage angst at work in Buttrill’s text. Kalene Speranza shines as Twista, the young goth struggling to rise above her abusive home life; also Bruce Jones’ performance as Spank, an unlikely fan from New Jersey who offers a glimpse of quiet strength and acceptance as he wears his outlandishness as a badge of pride.
Celine Rosenthal’s direction makes the connections between these kids palpable, allowing small gestures to reveal unspoken truths. To the uninitiated, the Juggalo world may seem one of Hot Topic tee shirts, loud metal music and strange face paint, but Juggalicious reveals a genuine tenderness just beneath.