Berkshire Theatre Festival, Stockbridge, MA
through July 28
by K.J. Rogowski
The Berkshire Theatre Festival’s production of “A Thousand Clowns” is a tight, well paced and very funny show. As with any good comedy, it calls for great timing and delivery, and this cast does indeed deliver.
CJ Wilson and Russell Posner as Murray and Nick, respectively, set a lively pace with their ongoing banter, songs, games, and general disregard for whatever the outside world may think of their cavalier take on life. Their situation, of Murray being five months unemployed, and Nick not really being under his legal care, is punctuated by the antics of James Barry and Rachel Bay Jones as the wonderfully uptight Albert Amundson, and his partner/ fiancée, the very sympathetic Sandra Markowitz of child welfare. Add to this comic mix the characters of Murray’s brother and agent, Arnold, played by Andrew Polk, who makes every effort to bring Murray back on board to write for the Chuckles the Chipmunk television show, and Jordan Gelber, as the jolly old chipmunk and equally self-centered and irritating kids show host, and the audience has a host of memorable characters, and comic moments to appreciate.
The story of Murray and Nick plays out a gamut of emotions, expectations and disappointments, pitting their off the cuff life style against the demands of social norms, legalities, and the oftentimes drudgery of every day life and survival. The play depicts the art of compromise and the test of wills in action. Randall Parsons’ set design too plays a role, with its tall dull grey walls looming over Nick and Murray’s apartment sanctuary, dotted with colorful stuffed toy eagles, and too many clocks ticking away their hopes. "A Thousand Clowns" is an evening of wit and wisdom, played out by a fine cast, delivering close to a thousand laughs.