It’s Christmas, 1975, and the crawlspace is open in suburban Chicago. John Wayne Gacy, Jr. is a man with secrets beneath his floor, but when his wife and friends start asking questions, he withdraws into his own world and his late-night conversations with the smoking, swaggering Duke who shares his name. As ghosts begin crowding the household, the divide between dream and reality vanishes, and the smell just keeps on getting worse. Sideshow Theatre Company and playwright Calamity West delve deep into the mind of Chicago’s infamous serial killer in this world premiere production and unearth an otherworldly meditation on masculinity and violence that hits all too close to home.
Embracing what playwright West refers to as “the reality and the mythology of Gacy,” The Gacy Play develops into “a snapshot that explores a man becoming a notorious being of the grotesque.” Its protagonist battles to keep his demons hidden from his family, his friends and himself, but nothing can stop them from whispering over his shoulder. What results is a drama full of simmering tension and unexpected humanity. No clowns, and no blood; just one of Chicago’s tragically familiar stories, brought to life in a wholly new and surprising manner.