First published in this standalone format back in June of 2018, ‘Crazyface’ formed the fourth of six books containing Barker’s playscripts that were published by Phil and Sarah Stokes through their project ‘The Clive Barker Archive’.

The playscript was first published in print within the Barker’s playscript collection ‘Forms Of Heaven’ (1996).

Alongside the playscripts, this standalone presentation of the book contains additional material, including Author’s Notes, Cast and Credits, and an Afterword.

DLS Synopsis:
It is the time of the Renaissance. Out in the ‘Low Countries’, Ella Eulenspiegel, together with her three daughters-in-law – Sheba, Irvette and Annie, along with her son, the simple fool, Tyl Eulenspiegel – have found themselves once again in exile from another city. Frustratingly, this was a recurring situation for the family, thanks to Tyl. A fool known to most simply as Crazyface.

As the family approaches the town of Loon, they encounter quite a commotion in the street. At the centre of the throngs of townspeople lies the broken body of their town idiot, Wormwood.

Speaking with the locals, it appears the fool had attempted to fly by jumping off the town’s church spire with a pair of homemade wings attached to his back. The end result was sadly inevitable.

However, in Tyl’s eyes, there is much more to Wormwood than a mere idiot. As Wormwood’s life gradually ebbs away, Tyl is able to speak with him and hear the fool’s final thoughts. And in hearing Wormwood speak, Tyl finds a kindred spirit. For before he died, Wormwood glimpsed the true unreality of the world, and from that, he took to the skies. Tyl himself could understand such a desire, having himself been dismissed as crazy, all because he was able to see angels.

But, as with everything that happens in the world, events continue to spiral towards strange new directions. So, after Wormwood finally dies, Tyl is coerced into burying the body.

Meanwhile, a spy named Alvarez aka the ‘Spanish Fly’ arrives at the town crossroads clutching a dagger and a small, locked box. However, he’s barely arrived at the crossroads before three masked assassins, who’ve travelled from across Europe, converge on Alvarez.

As the dust settles on the scene, Tyl stumbles across Alvarez, as the spy faces his own demise. But before death takes him, the Spanish spy bequeaths a small puzzle box to Tyl. A box that the other three spies are desperate to get their hands on. A box that contains the glory of the world…the salvation of Spain.

And now, with the box in his possession, Tyl Eulenspiegel must abandon his family, and leave this place alone if he wishes to survive. But it’s a strange and winding path that Crazyface’s life is to follow.  And the inevitable madness that is always present with the hapless clown, is only just beginning…

DLS Review:
Written in 1982, ‘Crazyface’ was one of three plays commissioned by the artistic director of London’s Cockpit Theatre, Alasdair Cameron, following the end of the Dog Company. The play, which was subtitled ‘A Comedy (with Lions)’, was a wildly ambitious story that trod the faint line between comedy and tragedy.

Having been inspired to write a play that included the fictional prankster from German folklore – Tyl Eulenspiegel – Barker penned a playscript that fits snugly within a suitably medieval setting. The play included a vast array of outlandish characters, seemingly contending for their share of the roaming limelight. 

Although the use of the character of Tyl Eulenspiegel is vastly different to that of the classic German folklore, Barker maintained the reckless drive of the clown’s actions in his play; offering a new lease of life to a character who might have otherwise faded away into the background through time.

The end result is something akin to Barker’s ‘The Adventures Of Mr. Maximillian Bacchus And His Travelling Circus’ (2009) but warped and distorted as if part of a mind-bending and surreal narcotic trip. It’s as absurd as it is insanely farcical; with strangeness substituting the need for any real plot direction.

On top of all this abstract craziness is an escalating degree of violence and coldly calculated tragedy.  Furthermore, with Crazyface’s plight leading down an increasingly risky path, it’s not long before the reader feels like all they can do is sit back and await the outlandish tragedy to fully take hold of the plot.

To be honest, ‘Crazyface’ isn’t a story that particularly rewards the reader with a concrete purpose. Instead, it keeps its goal close to its chest, playing out a strangely orchestrated story that never really seems to be going anywhere. However, amongst the chaos and catastrophe, a grinning fool can always be seen emerging from the thick cloud of all the mindless mayhem.  And on that charming level it certainly works.

Additional Material:
Author’s Note – 2 Pages
Before the playscript commences, Barker provides a short opening note, explain how the playscript should be seen as a tool for creative inspiration, and not one to confine an ambitious collective who wish to put together a new presentation of the play. Barker’s note is incredibly open and humble, offering it out to the world for enjoyment and entertainment. This is Barker all over.

It should be noted that this is the same ‘Author’s Note’ as appears in the other Playscript books.

Original Production Cast & Credits – 3 Pages
Here we have a list of credit for those who worked on the original 1982 performance of the play at London’s Cockpit Theatre – from the actors, to the stage manager and various technicians, to poster design.

Crazy Fools: An Afterword – Phil & Sarah Stokes – 5 Pages
Clive Barker enthusiasts Phil & Sarah Stokes provide a wonderfully insightful afterword in which they detail how the theatre’s artistic director, Alasdair Cameron commission the play for the Cockpit Youth Theatre. For a large part of the afterword, Barker is quoted verbatim. Here we see him describe the play as part pageant, part circus and part meditation on the glory of clowns. The afterword also includes a reproduction of the synopsis from the Cockpit programme.

Programme Notes – Crazy People, 1982 – 1 Page
Here we have a facsimile reproduction of Barker’s own notes on the play. It details his ideas, thoughts and aspirations within the story, connecting them all back to Tyl Eulenspiegel.

Clive Barker Notes – Crazyface, 1982 – 2 Pages
Here we have facsimile scans of two pages of handwritten notes and drawings by Barker on the play design.

Clive Barker Manuscript – Crazyface, 1982 – 4 Pages
Here we have facsimiles of four of the handwritten pages (pages 138 – 141) from Barker’s original manuscript for the final draft of the play.

A History – 2 Pages
Ending the bonus material, we’re given a list of all Barker’s original plays, starting with ‘Voodoo’ in 1967 and ending with ‘Colossus’ in 1983.

The book runs for a total of 182 pages (of which the playscript runs for 150 pages).

© DLS Reviews


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