Dock Ellis 7:42 p.m., Jan. 21
SD Fringe Festival: Oyster Boy and Diapers, Dishes, and Dreams
Oyster Boy, by Haste Theatre.
The London-based company's "an international, all-female ensemble of six-passionate theatre-makers." They tell a "dark" tale with a lightness verging on buoyancy. The combination's arresting: a story performed larger than life about a tragedy.
The idea came from the short stories of Tim Burton and the life of John Merrick, the famous "Elephant Man."
It's the 1950s. As barbershop quartets croon, and vocalists doo-wop, Jim and Alice fall in love by the sea at Saint Marie. They give birth to the title character.
"It's a boy," says one.
"Yes," replies the other, "I suspect so..."
"They should be ashamed!" shouts a woman, like the leader of an irate Greek chorus. The society she represents wants to banish the "otherness" they have spawned altogether.
Haste Theatre performs in different languages and styles, but especially in the European tradition of physical theater: mime, dance, clowning, all of which contribute to an anti-realistic feel in keeping with the subject matter.
They also make imaginative use of simple props. Large bolts of cloth, for example, become ocean waves, or a tent, or a white table cloth. And the piece is a rare combination: it's at once a delight and also very sad.
Space 4 Art, Outdoor Stage, 325 15th Street (near Petco Park), Saturday, July 6 at 9:30 p.m., and Sunday, July 7 at 5:00 p.m.
Diapers, Dishes, and Dreams by Mark C. Reis.
Reis tells us, early on, that he's 47 years old. Not long after he says so, he raises his left leg, and raises it, and raises it until his left foot looms over his head. Then he smiles and, with an impish pride, says, "but I can still do that."
Reis was a professional dancer in many Broadway musicals, including three years at the Shubert Theatre in Fosse. He toured Europe in 42nd Street and the U.S. in Jesus Christ Superstar.
When he was 42 he went to an audition and noticed that most of the dancers were 18. Some, in fact, were his former students.
Actors, given skill and luck, can act forever. Dancers, like sports figures, have a shelf-life. The question for Reis became what next?
Diapers, Dishes, and Dreams tells of - and is - his answer. It's a "one man musical comedy journey from Broadway to fatherhood and back." The performance piece combines narrative (he's an engaging storyteller), dance routines, and show tunes (among them "Some People" from Gypsy) to describe his process of change and finding his way anew.
It's also about another complication. Reis and life-partner Phil adopted a baby boy five years ago. Told with humor and frankness, Diapers is about different means of adapting. It concludes with pictures not worth a thousand words; they're priceless.
Tenth Avenue Theatre, Cabaret Theatre, 930 Tenth Avenue, downtown, Saturday, July 6 at 11:00 p.m., and Sunday, July 7 at 6:30 p.m.