On the surface, the Spanish group Yllana’s 2009 Fringe sensation 666 (now transplanted to the Minetta Lane Theater) seems like another nonverbal spectacle for tourists, along the lines of Stomp or Fuerzabruta. But something’s amiss—the clowns in this show play orange-clad prisoners who twitch and stutter their way through a variety of orgiastic, puerile, and gruesomely amusing routines. Like Blue Man Group Goes to Gitmo, maybe. They pretend to empty their chamberpots into the audience (number 1, thankfully), they sexually harass an audience member, they love to mime anal rape (even victimizing a stuffed lamb). One clever bit of Bunraku-inspired staging makes possible a grimly funny skit about two recently hanged men.
Though first performed in Valencia, Spain, in 1998, the show has only become more disturbing in the intervening years of “black sites” and Abu Ghraib. Yet the piece is so juvenile that it makes that observation seem silly—the profundity ends when the trousers drop.
Since 666 begins beyond tastelessness, of course it devolves into gags about gas chambers, and of course the finale includes a Greek chorus of sweaty demons with three-foot phalluses assaulting playgoers with their members. If the show didn’t end there, it would have to kill you.