In December, 500 Clown celebrates the holidays with a very special 500 Clown Christmas. And just so there’s no confusion: 500 Clown is not 500 clowns. The troupe—composed of performers Molly Brennan, Adrian Danzig, and Paul Kalina, bandleader/composer John Fournier, and director Leslie Buxbaum Danzig—defies tidy description (see below) but tends to rip literary classics and popular conventions to shreds before gluing them back together in weird, wonderful ways. We attempt to chart the vortex of influences that came to bear on the latest show—none of which involve red noses or big shoes. Dec 18-23. Call for times. $30-$100, D. Meily-Swallow Hall, North Central College, 31 S Ellsworth St, Naperville. 630-637-7469.

Photograph: Photography: (500 clown) Yi Zhao, (trapeze) Lise Gagne/, (tombstone) Michael Martin/, (chimp) © classicstock/alamy, (calculator) © Angelika Fischer/, (rocket) © Geoffrey holman/