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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 22, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 16
Tiger Tales a fanciful look at fables
Arts & Entertainment
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Tiger Tales a fanciful look at fables

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

Red Tiger Tales
ACT Theatre
Through April 23


Sprinkle some humorous Buddhist tales, clowns, musical sound effects, and aerial work together, mix liberally, and what do you have? UMO Ensemble's Red Tiger Tales - a fanciful way to visit your inner realizations.

The innovative troupe is installed at ACT Theatre for just one more weekend (there were only two weekends to see this), so you'll have to act fast to experience their latest creation. The hour-long lyrical presentation can give you a lot to think about, so feel free to ponder what this string of several fables means to you.

There's one about a guy who tries to keep the tigers away by spreading breadcrumbs. When someone tells him that there are no tigers around, he is pleased that it's apparently working.

In a slightly deeper fable - one that might make you realize that you can't control life events - dozens of slips of paper fall from the sky, bearing information like 'Google can't save you' or 'Insurance can't save you' or 'Eating a gluten-free diet can't save you.' Huh. Um, right. I guess they can't.

This style of theater is better experienced than explained. The experienced troupe of pseudo-circus performers always has something interesting to say via their offbeat method of delivery. And while it's accessible for children and looks like children's fare, they don't promise not to swear - in fact, they probably will in this show.

The focus of the story is looking for the 'master.' It appears to be an exercise in looking for someone who will give you answers when, ultimately, you need to come up with your own. Janet McAlpin, a founder who is listed in the program as 'artistic visionary,' says that she liked finding funny fables from Buddhist and Sufi traditions that philosophers use to make pithy points.

She and David Godsey both used aerial work in the performance in a slow, deliberate way, which adds to the meditative atmosphere. Accompanied by veteran clown Cecelia Frye and Lyam White, the piece's writer, they fought with each other, had an almost-pillow fight, and chatted up the audience. Have you ever been asked, seriously, what one hand clapping sounds like?

Marchette DuBois accompanied them with cymbals, other percussion, and wind instruments, creating a variety of sound effects. Veteran UMO member Elizabeth Klob directed and designed the playful costumes.

You might even get fed in this show. Godsey tantalizes us with a bowl of strawberries, reminding us that even in the darkest hours, there might be some good thing that happens, but one has to agree to reach out and take it. Run and grab this sweet little hour of philosophy before it disappears into the ether.

For more information, go to www.umo.org, www.acttheatre.org, or call 206-292-7676. Discuss opinions at sgncritic@gmail.com.

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