Saturday, July 18, 2009

Yes Sweet Can: ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG

Yes Sweet Can! Yes Sweet Can! Say that ten times without taking a breath while standing on one leg balancing a tea cup on your nose and you start to get an idea what this talented young four person troupe is accomplishing. They say they are a cross between circus and theater, but really it's all circus, with individual acts segueing into each other with the help of a fascinating musical track by E. O.

So what is best? The tap dancing trash cans? Matt White's 'Fly Me to the Broom?' Natasha Kaluza's hula hooping? Kerri Kresinski's tissu aerial routine? These were all fabulous, but no better than Beth Clarke's slack rope workout. It's a short show (only 50 minutes) but so much is crammed into that time that by the time they are finished, you are too.

This viewer's only niggle would be that the opening newspaper routine seems to take a long time to develop, though there are terrific moments there too, such as when all four parade slowly under the umbrella before they remove their cloaks. And clearly, judging from the publicity photos, such as the one above where only three of the performers pictured actually appeared with the troupe in concert, there is some personnel juggling going on within the company. This is natural in an industry that demands the most treacherous balancing act of all: staying alive on on a shoestring budget.

One very nice feature of the Sweet Cans is that all four performers look like real people -- no prepubescent 25-year-old Rumanian acrobats here. And because of her endlessly appealing smile, you can't take your eyes off company co-founder Beth Clarke. If there is one lesson to be learned, aside from the result of hundreds and hundreds of hours of practice, it is that a big, honest smile is the quickest distance between audience and stage. Best of all, Clarke looks like she means it.


The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards 'Yes Sweet Can' Three Stars with a BANGLE of PRAISE. It's an evening of fun, it's inexpensive, it pumps your adrenaline and you get to be in a theater, for once, where the oldest person is...well, you. The Three Stars are for the production itself, while the BANGLE of PRAISE is for the interplay of music to performance. Of course, it would be better without the Eurobabble of taped voices singing in incomprehensible languages, but it appears that circuses brought that in when they pinkslipped the elephants. They all do it; there is little of that here. E.O. plays a mean trumpet to go along with the electronic tracks. Remember: When Sour Can't, Sweet Can.

"Yes Sweet Can"
Mission Dance Theater
3316 24th Street, San Francisco
Sat-Sun, through July 19 ONLY
$15 or Pay What You Can

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