7 (x1) Samurai
Akira Kurosawa meets Looney Tunes is probably not what the cinema purist is looking for, but actor/mime David Gaines will win them over. Gaines tackles the 3 1/2-hour Japanese epic "Seven Samurai" in 50 minutes, with a bare stage and two masks. The rest is pure physical and vocal talent, unflagging energy and fun. The rubbery-faced (and -limbed) actor brings the sprawling tale of swordsmen defending a poor village from marauding bandits to rambunctious life. Think Buster Keaton and Wile E. Coyote in happi coats, complete with an "acrobatic" vocal soundtrack. More show information.
- BRIAN LEEHAN
This somewhat risky, fairly entertaining mash-up of juggling and storytelling opens with Mike Fotis, a regular at the Brave New Workshop, sitting at a table, reading a monologue. Members of the risky-juggling Danger Committee (Caleb "Reynaldo" McEwen, Mick "Bald Guy" Lunzer and Jason "Other One" LeMay) appear behind him with knives. The Fringe supposedly has double-booked the venue, forcing the two acts to share the stage. McEwen tranquilizes Fotis' by darting him in the neck. The trio hijacks the stage. When Fotis comes to, McEwen explains that comedy comes from danger, a point he demonstrates by shooting an apple off the head with a roll of toilet paper, among other stunts. A wacky work that is good for a few guffaws. More show information.
- ROHAN PRESTON
A live orchestra and a whirlwind of dancers promises well, but with this relentlessly sincere John Henry opus, composer Dameun Strange and choreographer Erinn Liebhard prove that the road to boredom is also paved with good intentions. Unfocus your attention and enjoy Strange's skilled musicians and Liebhard's occasional flashes of calligraphic line, or concentrate on the show's other pieces. The personable See More Perspective contributes spoken word and beatbox, while Strange's Langston Hughes song cycle "Dream Variations" conveys a depth of thought and feeling that the main attraction lacks. More show information.
- LIGHTSEY DARST
Two cancer patients get crosswise with each other on first meeting. Spiky, profane Kathleen reams out earnest, dramatic Michael for sitting in her chair outside the chemo tent. It's a minor offense, although no emotion is minor in this melodrama. Meanwhile, Kathleen and Michael's doctor and nurse are dancing around a dalliance. "General Hospital" hangs heavy in the air of Mark Jason Williams' script, which treads on occasion into the overwrought self-importance of a creative-writing assignment. The production is well rehearsed and paced by director Glory Kadigan. Actors Jason Emanuel, Sarah Kanter, Eric Percival and Alexandra Cohen-Stiegler are also credible. The whole affair just comes off as a tad too precious. More show information.
- GRAYDON ROYCE
Buckets and Tap Shoes
Brothers Andy and Rick Ausland are hyper-versatile performers. When they're not pounding out street-savvy beats on buckets or tossing off a few magic tricks, they tear up the stage with fast-and-fancy footwork or join their four-member band for a loose jam session. The show's highlights include a swampy harmonica-driven stomp, a cheeky classical prance and synchronized percussive play with drumsticks. Even the musicians show off a few moves seemingly stolen from the Time. Goofy moments mixed with serious fun and yes, plenty of cowbell. More show information.
- CAROLINE PALMER
The Duties and Responsibilities of Being a Sidekick
This riff on the superhero game starts with promise. Randy Reyes plays a sidekick who does all the heavy lifting for a posing dandy. He commiserates with his second-banana mates about having a boss who is in it for all the wrong reasons, but Reyes' character sticks with the job in hopes he might get his union card. Eric Sumangli's script then twists romantic, with a payoff not nearly as clever as these energetic actors deserve. Reyes' comic chops maintain buoyancy, but after a while it's hard to care about any of this. More show information.
- GRAYDON ROYCE