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The ugliness of 15th-century Paris—described in Hunchback’s opening narration as a “city of shit”—is conveyed in a very vivid and self-aware fashion in Redmoon Theatre’s multimedia adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame. Quasimodo’s bell tower is cobbled together from a mess of industrial scaffolding; masks and puppets (spanning the gamut from rod-style puppetry to a puppet that requires three operators) infuse the creepy text with a sense of magical realism. Redmoon has developed a reputation in the last decade of groundbreaking productions and “happenings” in Chicago that skillfully extract the innate comedy of everyday interactions. Director Leslie Buxbaum Danzig—who should be familiar to D.C. audiences from her work with improv group 500 Clown—keeps things visceral with a revised staging that features a seemingly limitless array of physical feats. Victor Hugo’s arrival on stage may be the best entrance of all—in Redmoon’s postmodern reworking, even the author is put through the paces.
HUNCHBACK RUNS TO SUNDAY AT THE SHAKESPEARE THEATRE COMPANY’S SIDNEY HARMON HALL, 610 F ST. NW. $10–$25. (202) 547-1122