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MANIFESTO! The Source

Remaining Performances: Saturday, July 19 @ 8 PM; Sunday, July 20 @ 3:30 PM; Wednesday, July 23 @ 7:30 PM; Saturday, July 26 @ 9 PM

They say: Manifesto! Art movement. Political movement. MANIFESTO! is DADA. Clown is HAHA! Three clowns, two punk visionaries, and an impresario walk into a bar. This is not a joke! This is a spectacular divertimento to launch the next great movement! Inspired by the PAST, NOW is the FUTURE. MANIFESTO! excites everything!**

Brian’s take: Pearheads. Choo-choo trainsies. Hypnotic spiraling head expanders. Funny HAHA dancing. Wheeling typewriter impostors:::::::::::::::::::::Honky-tonk saw. Stand UP! sit down. (Bald-headed crystal ball). Balloon&Broom&Bicycle wheelie….

Those are just a few examples of the glorious nuggets of nonsense that comprise MANIFESTO!, the Happenstance Theater’s delightful romp through the surreal, unreal, anti-real, ethereal landscape of DADA. This superb ensemble cast, led by Mark Jaster and Sabrina Mandell, has taken snippets from texts across four schools of thought—futurism, communism, capitalism, and dada—and artfully fashioned them into an hour-long comedic revue in which, ultimately, dada seeps into and seduces all.

But MANIFESTO! is by no means a history lesson. In fact, it is perhaps the most deftly theatrical display of reading-in-between-the-lines I have ever seen: a multi- and extra-sensory extravaganza with insanely stunning visual imagery stitched together by rag-tag bursts of sound and slapstick.

The show’s creators have apparently drowned themselves in the complete oeuvres of these movements (futurism and dada especially)—not to mention the Chaplin-Keaton-Stooge schools of physical comedy—and they have come up for air only long enough to grab the audience and take it, to the theater-goers’ glee, back down with them to the dada depths. Their commitment to the underlying spirit of the work is unfaltering and their interpretation spot-on: they proudly present the political theater of nonsense, the divine poetry of gibberish, the artistic anti-war protest by anti-artists. Unlike many others who try this very challenging stuff (in this year’s Fringe and elsewhere), these merry pranksters get it.

Oh, and did I mention that MANIFESTO! is funny? Sure, Judd Apatow flicks are funny, reruns of Seinfeld are funny, this Onion video is funny, but MANIFESTO! is funny in a way that eludes most comedy today: it is belly-laugh humor. This rare comedic form bucks all shades of intellectualism; it is not predicated on post-modern or post-pubescent awkwardness, or social satire, or even plain old wit, but on the visceral feeling of what it is to laugh for the sake of laughing, to lose yourself in the delirious hilarity of a moment, to let a bunch of clowns have their way with you, to not worry yourself with getting the joke because you—and everyone else around you—are the joke.

HaHa.

See it if: You’re bored; you’re excited; you’re sad; you’re silly; you’re angry; you’re happy; you’re rich; you’re poor; you’re communist; you’re magical realist; you’re on the verge of death; you’re a newborn; you’re sick; you’re sullen; you’re sullied; you’re Santa Claus….

Skip it if: dadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadadada.

**I must point out that in my opinion the Happenstance Theater has disproved Trey Graham’s previously posited theory that “the more artsy-fartsy the Fringe-brochure come-on, the more unbearable the show is likely to be.”