First, there’s the pulsing beat of Insane Clown Posse’s hard-core hip-hop songs.
Then there are the costumed performers spewing profanity at the audience one minute and spraying Old Spice cologne into the air to “create a safe space for masculinity” the next.
And at some point in the show, the softer sounds of Dan Fogelberg and Phil Collins enter the mix.
“We just thought hip-hop artists are always sampling, but let’s not sample the usual stuff,” said performer/writer Neal Medlyn.
Medlyn was talking about his latest music-based theater piece, “Wicked Clown Love,” which will play Kittery’s BUOY Gallery on Friday. The piece is based on the music of Insane Clown Posse and its clown-obsessed fans, known as Juggalos.
But beyond the music, Medlyn says he tried to use ICP’s “dark carnival” concept to create a “self-contained” world on stage with costumed characters, rapping and a series of strange on-stage activities.
At one point, some of the characters engage in flashlight wrestling. All the lights go off, and the wrestlers have at each other with just a flashlight as a means of finding their opponents.
“What we try to do is make it so even people who don’t know the (Insane Clown Posse) material can have fun,” said Medlyn. “It moves real fast.”
The one-hour show debuted in New York City during the winter and is now on the road. It’s being brought to the area by BUOY Gallery and 3S Artspace, a nonprofit arts organization based in Portsmouth, N.H.
Medlyn, who is based in New York, has made something of a career creating pop music-based theater pieces. He did a Lionel Richie-based opera, and has done shows based on the music and personas of Prince, Britney Spears and Collins.
“I like to pick people who seem like they have multiple personalities or do something with a weird concept,” said Medlyn. “Like Phil Collins. He seemed like such a smooth guy, and then he goes through a dark divorce and does that darker album, ” But Seriously.”
Medlyn picked Insane Clown Posse for one of his shows because of their “dark carnival” idea and the fact that their first six albums “were like one big concept record.”
“The dark carnival is like a morality tale — you can be good or you can be bad, and here’s what happens to you,” said Medlyn, who acts as master of ceremonies for the show. “We made costumes based on the characters, so it’s very visual.”
Although ICP’s music is loud and rough, and “Wicked Clown Love” is laced with profanity, there’s a warmer side to the show as well, Medlyn says.
“Insane Clown Posse are known for being dark and crazy, but their fans treat each other like family, and I found that interesting,” he said.
And speaking of dark, crazy and family, Medlyn says his next theater piece will be based on the life and music of … wait for it … Michael Jackson.
Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: