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Sad clowns, mad scientists

The Brooklyn Paper

There are scientists, there are mad scientists, and then there are mad-clown scientists.

On May 11, four professional clowns are taking off their poufy, neon gowns in favor of lab coats, and ditching their red, rubber noses for scratch-resistant spectacles during their theatrical production, “Cirque This in Machinations,” a play about how — when it comes to clowns — intellectual ambition can be a dangerous thing.

“It’s a fun sort of light hearted show, but it also has some really dark aspects to it,” said director Andy Dickerson. “If you’re interested in that whole concept of Frankenstein’s Lab kind of thing, then you’ll probably like this show.”

The show features a quartet of jester scientists, engineers, test subjects, and “safety monitors,” all of whom are intent on building an ambiguous looking machine, to be used for a nebulous purpose — but, them being clowns, everything works out as it shouldn’t.

“Everyone succeeds, in their own way,” said Jason Leinwand, who plays the quintessential mad-clown scientist. “But that doesn’t necessarily mean their successful.”

But the show isn’t simply a string of uninterrupted clown antics — like any good show with a circus spirit, “Cirque This in Machinations” has a variety of acts, including a puppet show and a short, stop-motion animation.

Despite all of the monkey business, goofball antics, and clowning around, this novel addition to circus theater manages to slip a powerful message into its absurd machination.

“Whether it be machines, arts, or science in general, anything we make has that Kafka capacity,” said Leinwand. “Everything we make can potentially take on a life of its own, and either love us, or hates us.”

Triskelion Arts [118 N. 11th St. between Berry Street and Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg, (718) 599–3577] May 11, 8 pm. $15 ($12 for students and seniors). Visit

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at or by calling (718) 260-4514.

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