Friday, October 23, 2009

"Albert's Fear": Many ☼ Many BANG

Perhaps the best part of being a theater reviewer is that you get offers to see productions you'd probably never dream of attending otherwise. "Albert's Fear," starring the fabulous Czech physical comic Vojta Svejda, is one of these joyous surprises. One of four shows that make up the International Czech Theater Festival that is bouncing into the Marsh on a pogo stick and bouncing out just about that quickly, "Albert's Fear" makes us realize what a pity it is that more people won't get to see these quirky and powerful hour-long pieces.

Poor Albert. He sleeps peacefully in his blanket until his Mom calls him to wake up for school. He is then tormented by everyone and everything -- his toothbrush, his breakfast, the bullies on the school bus, his teacher, his beautiful classmate Eva, and, most of all, his demonic dreams. Svedja performs in Almost Mime -- which is to say he doesn't really talk, except to utter a few words now and then. Mostly, he mutters, squeals, squeaks, gasps and invents sounds for everything taking place around him. Accompanying him are two excellent musicians, Martin Zpevak (upright bass) and Jiri Mraz (clarinet, piccolo, others), who also invent sounds to add to the sound pastiche illustrating Albert's many dilemmas.

It all ends well: fears conquered, bullies vanquished, love interest kindled. Our greatest disappointment is that as we write this review, there is only one more presentation of "Albert's Fear." The International Czech Theater Festival will be gone for good by this coming Wednesday. Hopefully next year we'll get to see more shows and for longer runs.


The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division scratches its chin as it attempts to figure out how to rate "Albert's Fear," then throws up its hands and says "Many Stars, Many BANGLES OF PRAISE." On one hand it's not really a play, on the other hand it has a beginning, a middle and an end, the character grows, the action is continuous and we feel like we've learned something by the time the show is finished. But, but, wait: there's no set. Yes there is, it's the actor. But, but, there's no dialog. What, a chain saw isn't dialog?

You'll just have to figure it out and we hope you do. We loved "Albert's Fear." October 24 (Saturday) at 8pm is the only performance left. For $15 bucks it's a little gem.

"Albert's Fear"
Part of the International Czech Theater Festival
The Marsh
1062 Valencia Street, San Francisco
Through Saturday Oct. 24
(Festival continues through Oct. 28)
$15-$35 sliding scale

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