Big on vibe, less clear on meaning, Corydon Ovium (Latin for “clown sheep”) is not the typical late night show you’d expect in the Newsroom. The locally-based Nightmares Productions have gone for atmosphere here. Creepy circus music beckons you down into the basement, the stage is draped with
big top stripes, and a video backdrop makes sure we’re fully immersed in freaky, spooky horrorland. On a low budget, it’s just the job to get you in the mood.
A masked circus ringmaster is the first of a sizeable cast to take the stage, pitching the three part tale we’re about to witness. As with all tonight’s performances, it’s convincingly done, even if we’re none the wiser as to what it’s all about.
The first tale involves an alcoholic young woman, slightly unconvincing as a boozehound, whose friend finds her necking mouthwash and suggests she seek help in beating the bottle from a passing circus. Potions are dispensed and mind-tricks played as our alcoholic friend gets converted into an evil clown. It’s the most coherent of the three storylines this evening.
In the second, two shoplifters steal a clown doll that sets off a chain of nasty events, and the finale involves a young gamer and possibly some Black Mirror-y blurring of on-and-offline reality. Murders happen, clowns loom at the audience, and the ringleader occasionally leaps in to narrate. It’s enthusiastically and showily performed, but it’s hard to pick through the fairground freakery to
get to a followable storyline. It’s meant to be inexplicable and other-worldly, of course, but maybe not quite so arbitrary.
Nevertheless, there’s an impressive amount of effort been put in to this out-of-the-way free show, especially given company members must regularly be outnumbering audience members. Costumes are elaborate, and all the elements are there to create the right mood. There’s plenty to recommend it as a spectacle, if only they’d trade some of the arrant weirdness for a firmer plot.