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CurtainUp DC Review
by Sam Thielman
The great thing about Buratino is that Tsikurishvili mines the average child's high tolerance for absurdity and puts it to work, forcing his adaptation of Aleksi Tolstoy's Pinocchio story out the other side of goofy and onward into the sublime. The Barabas character would look like a fool in any other context, but Tsikurishvili and costumer Anastazia Rurikov Simes make him larger than life, as they have done with the rest of the talented cast.
Puppets, mime, elaborate animal costumes -- all the traditional trappings of children's theater are there on a bare stage and working in near-total concert with one another -- something both difficult and admirable, because if dogs can smell fear, little kids can smell disbelief. As Buratino (Miguel Jarquin-Moreland, skilled, but perhaps a little too wide-eyed) made his way through the episodic misadventures of Tsikurishvili's nearly ninety-minute, intermission-less piece, the audience stayed uncannily quiet for a passel of five-to-ten-year-olds.
This is not to say that Buratino has nothing to offer those of us who have left Spaghetti-Os behind. The puppets are wonderful if uncomfortable-looking, with long suffering Catherine Gasta's turtle puppet an impressive full-body contraption.
The entire cast seems to be enjoying themselves -- particularly Greg Marzullo and Irina Tsikurishvili as thieving beggars with animal tendencies who are catty and foxy, respectively. Kavsadze, also the sound designer, overdoes it a little on the music ( it's lovely, but many of the scenes don't need a score behind them).
Buratino isn't a cognac but it is a really good cupcake. It's a treat for kids that mercifully doesn't try to be anything else. Ultimately, if they're prepared to buy it, who am I to disagree? Willful suspension of disbelief is hard to come by these days. Perhaps a young patron in the front row paid the show its highest compliment during the scene in which Buratino's adoptive father Karlo (Michael Spara) looks helplessly around the stage for his son. Unable to stand it any longer, he yelled out, "He went that way!"
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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