Rock stars shred stages with guitars. The four chefs of "Nanta," or "Cookin'," do it with knives.
They mince cabbages, onions, carrots and cucumbers, littering the Children's Theatre Company stage to comic effect in this one-act that opens the company's fall season.
And they perform to a throbbing, percussive score — some of the music is of their own rhythmic chopping, while other beats are piped in as if from a party. It all adds up to a festive atmosphere onstage that ripples into the audience.
Welcome to this world of antic abandon. With these players making music on jugs, pots and pans, "Cookin'" has elements of "Stomp," the Blue Man Group and a little bit of "Riverdance." The performers also get lost in twirling ribbons with their heads, juggling plates and generally being playfully silly.
Taken together, the individual bits would make a nice episode of "America's Got Talent." Except these performers are on tour from Korea, and their grab bag of gags is part of a work that's been running in Seoul since 1997, with a COVID-19 break here and there.
The show is full of sounds — chopping, stomping, clacking and clicking. But it's mostly wordless, with a simple conceit. A tuxedoed groom-like figure (Ho Yeoul Sul) has given four chefs an hour to prepare a wedding feast. Frantic and manic, the three men and one woman gather at their stations "Iron Chef"-style and get to work.
Of course, it can't be that straightforward. All are easily distracted. One minute Min Goo Jung, Changhwan Ko, Hyejin Song and Jung Hwan Hyun are focused, the next they're inviting audience members onstage to taste the soup.
There also is a romance mini-plot with two of the chefs.
"Cookin'" is high on entertainment value. The kid in you laughs when the tallest member of the cast gets stuck in a trash can. Then he walks about with the can attached to his butt like half an eggshell.
The acting company is skilled at working the crowd. They draw applause with their bits, but also encourage it. And they coax shy audience members onto the stage.
If the show were a meal, it would have enticing aromas as real seasonings are used in the fare cooked onstage. But it would be with no calories and zero nutritional value.
In a season of challenges, maybe that's just what the doctor ordered. "Cookin'" is an entertaining bit of mindless fun.
Where: Children's Theatre Company, 2400 3rd Av. S., Mpls.
When: 7 p.m. Tue.-Fri., 2 & 7 p.m. Sat., 2 & 5 p.m. Sun. Ends Oct. 22.
Tickets: $15-$72. 612-874-0400 or childrenstheatre.org.