Biglittlethings

Imago Theatre, Thurs-Sat 7:30 pm, Sat-Sun 1:30 pm, Sun 5:30 pm, closing this weekend, $14-24

Created by Imago Theatre's daring duo Jerry Mouawad and Carol Triffle, Biglittlethings is, like the company's "other" show FROGZ, a hodgepodge of movement and costume-oriented skits about cuddly creatures like hitchhiking rabbits, disembodied eyes, operatic ducks, and roaming polar bears. Each skit is a well-executed display of mime, choreographed movement, and some dance.

At a Sunday matinee the audience was packed to the gills with kids and their parental chaperones, all of whom loved the show. As the only 20-something in the audience, I too found myself given over to the certain "animal" magnetism that made FROGZ such a hit, and will make Biglittlethings a hit as well. The characters, a combination of puppets, Muppets, and anthropomorphized emotion, are fully rendered through the use of masks and carefully worked gesture. The creatures are hypnotic and surprising, always pursuing a physical punch line that often involves some sort of metamorphosis or transformation. Biglittlethings originally premiered in 2002 and has since been completely reworked, the cast tightened to six lithe performers whom, one can sense, have exhaustively explored the physical potential of each costumed character. And yet despite the delightful dream world they create, the show hasn't quite reached its full potential. The performers have mastered each skit within their capabilities, but after 12 scenes, one begins to detect the limitations of their physical vocabulary. After intermission the pieces tread toward redundancy, erroneously repeating gimmicks. The performers, though highly enthusiastic and committed, don't incorporate enough straight dance or acrobatics, two parts of physical theatre necessary to complete a lengthy show.

Despite these finer points, Biglittlethings is still a great show with plenty to offer--like FROGZ has been for years, it's a work in progress. Mask performer Bruce Marrs sums up the fine line the actors mine: "When you're wearing a mask, you're either pure magic or an actor with a lampshade on his head." ANNA SIMON

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