Sound effects, a long dance, bad roomies, a blind date

Posted: September 01, 2008

Kid Simple: A Radio Play in the Flesh People in show business talk about Foley sound design - the art of creating such sound effects as footsteps, clanking chains and galloping horses with unseen props. Jack Foley, a key figure at Universal Studios back in the day, originated these techniques; now there are now whole courses in Foley.

Jordan Harrison's play, Kid Simple: A Radio Play in the Flesh, is having a lively, clever production by Azuka Theatre, under Kevin Glaccum's direction. Central is a visible Foley sound design - a huge conglomeration of noise-making stuff manipulated by Kevin Meehan.

There are multiple plots, all preposterous, all intertwined. Moll (the excellent Amanda Schoonover), a genius high-school girl, invents a machine called The Third Ear for a science fair. It hears the unhearable ("toenails growing on a field mouse, dustbunnies stomping like pachyderms") and soon the forces of darkness are after it, led by a shapeshifter (Keith J. Conallen).

Meanwhile, Moll's parents (Kathryn Petersen and Joe Mallon) listen to a serialized radio show about a silent cello defended to the death by a music teacher. Overseeing all this is the Narrator (Zura Young) whose old-timey voice carries the plots along and who knows that without her, there's no story.

Filled with wordplay and linguistic hooha meditating on the sound of silence, on love, on sex, on creativity, Kid Simple is a bit too long (and long-winded), but it's a smart and entertaining evening. - Toby Zinman

$20. 7 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday and Sept. 10-13. At the Latvian Society, 531 N. 7th St.

Wandering Alice It's hard to ignore the outside factors: Christ Church Neighborhood House is hot, hot, hot! And not in a good way, in an unair-conditioned way. The show is 90 minutes, long by Live Arts/Fringe standards and even longer by sticky-and-stifling standards. The audience stands nearly the entire time, and ascends and descends stairs that are sometimes perilously littered with papers. The dancers touch us, move us around the room and say curious things. The whole atmosphere is surreal.

Nichole Canuso's Wandering Alice is not for everyone.

The story line is simple but hard to follow. After a while, I gave up trying and enjoyed the performance for the most interesting bits: the amazing sets the audience explores, sections of dance breaking out at unexpected times, the journey to who-knows-where, the video of Canuso walking across another dancer's shirt.

And, most of all, Canuso herself, who turns the piece from bizarre to charming (although it slips back over and over again). She has a wide-eyed innocence and such a wonderful deadpan that every movement, or even a simple glance, is filled with humor and meaning.

- Ellen Dunkel

Future performances are sold out.

His, Hers and Larry's. You can't get Larry to stop blowing his nose and leaving tissues everywhere. You can't get him to look after his belongings, or even to keep the remains of half-eaten turkey burgers out of his pants pockets. This, goes the premise of Julia Curcio's new one-act, is why he's the perfect boarder for newlyweds Dee and Carl.

"The bad roommate is supposed to bring the good roommates together," like in dormitories, Dee tells her husband. But what if the bad roommates are really Dee and Carl, and the social miscreant - Larry - is the one with at least some sense?

Director Rowen Haigh uses Projects Gallery on Second Street to her advantage in presenting the show; the art space begins to feel, oddly, like the living room of these troubled young marrieds and their weird roomie. The play has its quirks - much, for instance, is made of a dirt biker Dee knows; she refuses to tell her husband anything about the biker for no credible reason beyond milking the plot.

The arguments and resentments between spouses (nice turns by Ryane Studivant and Jake Blouch) are real enough, and sometimes funny, too. And Steve Lippe's Larry - by turns eerie, off-the-wall and insightful - is any number of actual people you want to avoid. -Howard Shapiro

$10. 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10 and 12; and 2 p.m. Sunday, at Projects Gallery, 629 N. Second St.

The Widow's Blind Date Playwright Israel Horovitz is fascinated by the changeable nature of group dynamics. In this 1978 play, currently staged by Green Light Productions, there's no shortage of his other favorite topics, either. Continual tilting of the balance of power? Check. A love triangle? Check. A working-class Massachussetts town? Check. Dark secrets hovering beneath the surface? Double check.

A pair of lugs, Archie (Nathan Emmons) and George (Gene D'Alessandro) haul paper bales in a warehouse until their old classmate Margy (Kirsten Quinn), a girl who got out and made good, comes to call. The play, like Horovitz's worldview (and that of his pal Samuel Beckett) is nasty and brutish, though darkly funny. George calls Archie "all bark and no bite," but even if you've known someone all his life, well, you never really know him, do you?

Under John Gallagher's direction, the male actors trade hierarchy with the jerks and jolts of a clutch engaging and gears shifting - a compliment, considering the industrial mechanics of the men's surroundings. However, Quinn always seems more prop than character in her own right.

Though the production goes slack two-thirds in, you can rely on Horovitz to yank it taut again, even if you'd prefer that he let you off easy. - Wendy Rosenfield

$20. 7 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Sept. 9-11; 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sept. 12 and 13; 3 p.m. Sunday. At Walnut Street Theatre Independence Studio 3, 825 Walnut St.

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