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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

at Union Square Theater, New York

By David Lefkowitz

If you haven't seen Stomp, Blue Man Group, Blast!, Cirque du Soleil, Gumboots and/or Drumstruck, have I got a show for you! It's an Israeli import called Be, and it features a passel of young, awesomely agile and athletic performers mixing dance, physical slapstick, musical performance art and audience participation. It's got rhythmic trading of buckets, glow-in-the-dark flippy things, funky dancing, playful calisthenics, and pretty much anything to make an aspiring terpsichorean green with envy.

It's also a perfectly watchable entertainment for the rest of us, although it shares with most of the above-mentioned shows that "too much of a muchness" problem, where the thrill of the first half hour's sense of discovery doesn't build so much as repeat itself with diminishing interest.

Not that one expects a full dramatic arc or anything like that, but it's telling that the best segments in this effort by the 10-year-old Mayumana performance troupe have some kind of storyline. Early in the show, one dancer mimes playing paddle ball (no ball, no string, just his finger making a click noise on a can lid) when his ball is stolen by two other "players," leading to a delightful game of the invisible ball careening across the stage and the performers slo-mo fighting over it. Other isolated bits of comic business are welcome as well, as is a cute segment where audience members pull a microphone attached to an elevated drum pedal, allowing them to add percussion to a musical number.

Still, it's one of those shows that could have ended after 45 minutes, or 60, or 75, and would have left exactly the same impression as it does at 90: fun to a point, dazzling to the uninitiated, and yet somehow not the marvel it aches to "be."


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