A Thousand Clowns
Tickets and Information
May 15-June 17, 2009
Intiman’s newest production, “A Thousand Clowns” by Herb Gardner, is an engaging portrayal of a man’s struggle to remain a free-thinking individual in an age of conformity, while dealing with the pressing responsibilities of raising his abandoned nephew.
Murray Burns (Matthew Boston) is a happily unemployed ex-children’s TV show writer who spends his days lounging around his one-bedroom apartment while his 12-year-old nephew, Nick Burns (Nick Robinson), takes on the responsibilities of an adult. When Child Care Services arrives at his door to investigate the case, Nick is forced to either accept the straight and narrow path by locking down a job with the TV show he hates, or risk losing Nick to his pride and selfishness. Thrown into the mix is Sandra Markowitz (Julie Jesneck), a Child Care Services agent who falls in love with Murray and his spontaneous life.
The show is backed by a brilliant team of designers. Nayna Ramey’s set evokes the anonymity of living among the lightless, concrete streets of Manhattan. Tall, gray skyscrapers with grimy, nondescript windows tower in the shadows of the background behind the set of the Burns’ cluttered, homey apartment. Lights (Marcus Dilliard) and sound (Joseph Swartz) collaborate to portray the culture of 1962, emphasizing the unique craziness of New York City.
Matthew Boston (Murray), Julie Jesneck (Sandy) and Nick Robinson (Nick). Photo by Chris Bennion.
Sari Ketter returns to the Intiman after her successful directorial debut with "The Diary of Anne Frank". It is clear Ketter’s vision for “A Thousand Clowns” was to bring to light many issues our postmodern society still faces. In 1962, Americans were largely shackled within their domestic, appliance-filled, Eisenhower-consumerist lives. Murray Burns is a symbol of the spirit beginning to emerge in the early 60s of a different kind of thinking: a spirit of anticonformity, criticism, and change. The challenges of trying to connect in an age of anonymity, strangers, calculative thinking, and televised emotions are highlighted in Burns’ struggle to find identity, maturity, and reliability. The cast, including Seattle’s best (Tim Hyland and David Pichette), is simply superb.
The production is an incredibly enjoyable experience, both for of its humor and quick wit and for the heavier issues it raises. Audiences will be challenged to reawaken to the joy of finding out what it means to be a living, breathing, laughing person in the face of the daily grind and pressures of list-making authority. Plus, there’s a bit with a ukulele.