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Unveiling the Depths

"Why a musical about a serial killer?" This question may naturally raise eyebrows and conjure images of sensationalism and gore. However, Crawlspace is anything but what you might expect; it's a journey that dives deep into the intricacies of the human mind, uncovers hidden secrets in American history, and reflects the darkest corners of our culture. It is a theatrical experience that challenges conventions and encourages you to look beneath the surface. The musical explores the heavy legacy of abuse and how it manifests differently for each victim and survivor, reminding us that some scars never truly heal.


Moreover, Crawlspace  acts as a reflection on the true crime genre itself and the ethical debate surrounding it. The musical presents a cautionary tale about the dangers of dark obsessions and the risks of searching for reason and answers where none may exist. Is the risk worth the possible reward of arriving at new understandings and breakthroughs? How far is too far? And what are the ethical boundaries that should guide such pursuits?


At the same time, Crawlspace points to the perils of relegating true crime stories to the shadows and not confronting their larger implications toward society and human psychology. Such avoidance often stems from fear of elevating violent criminals. Can true crime be enlightening without allowing a criminal's infamy to eclipse the suffering of their victims? Crawlspace  grapples with these issues. As Leonard Bernstein once said, "A work of art does not answer questions, it provokes them; and its essential meaning is in the tension between the contradictory answers.'"


A Historical Mirror

The musical is a work of historical fiction set against the backdrop of a real American true crime case- the Gacy murders of the 1970's. The Gacy story is stranger than fiction, and it serves as an allegory- a mirror held up to our culture's darkest parts. It reveals how, as a society, we often see only what we want to see. It illustrates how fear, shame, and repression can breed apathy. Crawlspace reimagines the case, confronting unsettling truths head-on and shifting the focus from "who"   to "why"", creating a thought-provoking, immersive, and even cathartic experience for the audience. 

The Victims

Crawlspace explores the dark legacies of abuse and violence, keeping victims clearly in focus. ​While Gacy's crimes and conviction make him a public figure, his victims did not choose such recognition. Therefore, in the script, the names and specific stories of Gacy's victims are altered. This decision serves to honor their privacy while still effectively conveying the tragedy, impact, and consequences of their deaths. It also prevents their identities from becoming overly associated with their convicted killer. Gacy's victims were individuals with unique lives, dreams, and aspirations. They were more than mere numbers and deserve to be remembered beyond the circumstances of how they died. Crawlspace seeks to respectfully bring awareness and understanding to all victims of violence and abuse without exploitation or sensationalism.

Humanizing the Complex

This musical delves into the life of John Wayne Gacy, a convicted serial killer. John was a showman of extremes, a man of contradictions and cruelty. Crawlspace does not venerate him or his actions. Instead, it portrays him as he was in life—a confusing figure with deep-seated psychological issues.  He is depicted, not as a mythical monster, but as a deeply flawed and dangerous human—a concept that is far more frightening, urgent, and thought-provoking.  We explore his difficult childhood and repressed sexuality not to justify his violence but to understand the complex web of factors that contributed to his actions. This is a psychological thriller that addresses the concepts of evil, cycles of abuse, the criminal justice system, sexual stigmas, and mental health issues—issues that remain relevant in our current times.

The Transformative Power of Music

Music has the unique ability to elevate words, convey emotion, and elegantly communicate even the most difficult stories. We believe it makes this tragic tale more accessible, transforming and humanizing the dark subject matter into an experience that transcends the sensationalism so often attached to it.

The Mind's Journey

"We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are."
– Talmudic Saying


The narrative unfolds through the mental lens and filter of the fictional forensic psychologist, Dr. Judy Matthewson. The play follows her mind's journey as she remembers her interviews with John years after they took place. She struggles to make sense of his crimes (and her past) and "re-lives" critical moments, searching for an elusive source that may trigger violent criminal behavior. She employs her professional training and personal experiences to process her thoughts.

Blurring Realities

The Doctor explores a psychological realm where figures from John's dark story join and interact with her own memories and traumas. Everything on stage is either drawn from her experience or represents her interpretations of people and events as described by John, police reports, or other sources. With this in mind, nothing in this show represents strict reality. Instead, every character and scenario must be viewed (and staged) as existing in the Doctor's psyche- a psyche that becomes dangerously connected to John's as she attempts to understand his behavior.

In the show, lines between reality, memory, and imagination become increasingly blurred. The titular "Crawlspace" can be viewed metaphorically. The Doctor, a Dante-like figure, descends into the dangerous depths of a very personal hell, searching for answers, seeking purification, and, perhaps naively, wishing to explain the dark side of human nature. Dante journeyed through the abyss to reach an encounter with God on the other side - an answer to the mysteries. To the Doctor, God is science. Crawlspace owes a great debt to Dante's Inferno and Purgatorio. 


The Fragility of Memory

One central theme is the reliability of memories. Crawlspace demonstrates, through John and the Doctor, how memories and imagination occupy the same space as ego, emotion, bias, want, pride, and ambition. Memories are beholden to many masters and can be remarkably flexible, especially when humans search for meaning behind the chaos in their lives.

Nietzche and Archetypal Forces

Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophies deeply influenced the creation of Crawlspace, particularly through the Apollonian and Dionysian archetypes he introduced. These archetypes represent opposing artistic and philosophical forces central to the musical's thematic core. The Apollonian embodies traits of order, reason, and clarity, while the Dionysian represents chaos, passion, and intoxication. These archetypes offer a lens through which to examine the interplay of artistic expression and the complexities of the characters within the show.

Within Crawlspace, the exploration of these archetypal forces extends beyond the traditional concept of human nature. Instead, they serve as dynamic elements that shape the characters and the narrative's very construction.


The use of dialogue and introspection to delve into the characters' psyches and motivations aligns with a reasoned exploration of human behavior- an Apollonian trait. The dark and unsettling themes of the script, including crime, violence, and psychological horror, evoke a sense of chaos and passion that is characteristic of the Dionysian. Likewise, the non-linear and dream-like sequences, as well as the blurring of reality and hallucination, can be seen as Dionysian disruptions of order and reason.

John Wayne Gacy, while primarily embodying Dionysian traits, represents the darker aspects of human existence. His character thrives in chaos and darkness, driven by inner demons and heinous acts. In contrast, the Doctor embodies Apollonian characteristics, championing reason, order, and a scientific pursuit of understanding the human mind. Her quest to study Gacy reflects a rational, knowledge-seeking approach. However, both characters undergo complex transformations. The Doctor's obsession with Gacy draws her deeper into the darkness, obscuring the boundaries between the archetypal forces. Gacy, too, reveals moments of vulnerability and introspection, suggesting brief flashes of the Apollonian.

Ultimately, Crawlspace explores the interplay between these archetypal forces as it delves into the characters' psyches and the broader themes of the story. It doesn't neatly categorize them into traditional Apollonian and Dionysian roles but uses these concepts to add depth to the characters' development and the narrative's exploration of human nature.

Crawlspace offers a layered story with much to explore. If you have an open mind and enjoy being challenged by theater, we invite you to experience this thought-provoking musical that is not what you might expect. We encourage you to Look Beneath the Surface.
You'll be surprised by what you find.



Does evil exist?

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