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Hip Shot: 7(x1) Samurai

Remaining Performances:
Saturday, July 19, @ 8 p.m.; Sunday, July 20, @ 2:15 p.m.; Thursday, July 24, @ 10 p.m.; Saturday, July 26, @ 1 p.m.; Sunday, July 27, @ 7 p.m.

They Say: “Kurosawa’s epic tale of victimized peasants, marauding bandits, and samurai warriors—retold at breakneck pace, through movement, by one exhausted and ridiculous actor. With accompanying gibberish and vocal sound effects.”

Trey’s Take: Best 45 minutes of my Fringe so far. Don’t be intimidated by the Kurosawa name-check—or by the fact that this guy’s a highly trained mime.

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Solo artist David Gaines tarts up the tale of The Seven Samurai with decidedly American pop-culture tropes ranging from action-flick fight sequences to Looney Tunes cartoons—I think there’s even a nod in the direction of the Samurai homage The Magnificent Seven—using those instantly recognizable vocabularies to help tell the story almost entirely without words.

And Gaines is as deft as anyone I’ve ever seen at the efficient definition of character: A gesture, a posture, a shambling shrug, or a katana-sheathing shhhhwwwt sound, and you see the archer, the sleepy swordsman, the giant, or the klutzy apprentice samurai. By the time the show culminates in an epic one-man rendition of a full-tilt defend-the-village free-for-all, the illusion is total: One guy, a couple of masks, a white backdrop, and a roiling battle against the landscape of feudal Japan has unfolded in your mind’s eye.

See It If: You grok that, far from being an outdated discipline to sneer at, the rich nonverbal language that is mime informs contemporary entertainments from Broadway’s Lion King to Pixar’s Wall•E.

Skip It If: You’ve got better things to do than be charmed by a witty concept and a first-rate performer.

Posted by Trey Graham on Saturday, July 12, 2008, at 7:01 p.m.

For full Fringe coverage, visit the Fringe & Purge blog.