Company Paradiso, Enter the Clown

Review in Issue 9-2 | Summer 1997

Jon Potter's adaptation of Heinrich Böll's 1963 novel, Ansichten Eines Clowns (directed by Ramin Gray) steers a difficult course through the life of the once-celebrated clown Hans Schnier. We first meet Schnier as he's on his way out after a humiliating final performance. Through affecting, sometimes mysterious scenes, Company Paradiso present the life story of a classic literary outsider, whose sly targets were church, family, politicians and the state. The characterisation throughout is deft and economic. The pomposity of the church is neatly mocked with a sneer and foppish hat. In the lead, Paul Regan merely suggests Schnier's comic routines with a pose or gesture. The gradual drift from his family – through political and religious differences – inspires particularly moving scenes. In one, a rare visit by his father offering misguided advice on clowning technique, is painfully expressive of generational differences.

After the exhilaration of their early days, Schnier and his lover, Marie quickly sink into indifference – she disenchanted by his failures as a clown. The passage from wide-eyed girl to sullen critic is beautifully played by Debra Penny. In addition, a rich and comic cast of church elders, old-guard communists and family are sensitively performed by Jon Potter and Terence Mann.

Enter the Clown, despite sometimes defying a clear narrative, provides many haunting and thoughtful images of a fascinating world.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. May 1997

This article in the magazine

Issue 9-2
p. 25