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7(x1) Samurai The Shop at Fort Fringe
Remaining Performances: Saturday, July 19 @ 8 PM Sunday, July 20 @ 2:15 PM Thursday, July 24 @ 10 PM Saturday, July 26 @ 1 PM Sunday, July 27 @ 7 PM
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.
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, and 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See it if: You grok that, far from being an outdated discipline to sneer at, the rich nonverbal language that is mime informs contemporary entertainments from Broadway’s Lion King to Pixar’s Wall-E.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.