Theater review by Helen Shaw
Taken one wide-eyed, rubber-limbed performer at a time, everyone in the clown play Yōkai is impressive: the boyish fellow (David Tholander) who can make a vine grow out of his ear, the gifted physical comic (Louisa Hollway) who waggles her spidery arms to make us laugh, the jittery man in a tie-on mustache (Vincent Vernerie) who vibrates like anxiety made flesh. This is the Krumple, an international assortment of young bouffons, mimes, magicians and comedians, all recent graduates of the legendary École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq. But while their show is marvelous moment by moment, it doesn’t exceed the sum of its charming parts.
The subtitle for Yōkai is Remedy for Despair, and its short, nearly wordless scenelets tend to be about grief. The vine guy has been weeping for so long that earth has starting to grow over him; the comic gets run over by a (toy) car; the nervous fellow’s daughter has died. The bodysuit-clad performers put up cardboard set pieces and keep their eyes fixed on us as they creep around, like cats caught doing mischief. This is wonderful the first, second and third times, but by the fifteenth sneaky entrance, the childlike naughtiness starts to cloy. As the show glides along like a recital, giving each actor a showcase moment, an overall sense of sameness also tiptoes in.
The Tank (Off-Off Broadway). Created and performed by the Krumple. Running time: 1hr 5mins. No intermission. Through Sun 24.
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