Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Avner the Eccentric in Exceptions to Gravity


If you were not one of the fortunate theatre-goers who witnessed the performance of ‘AVNER THE ECCENTRIC in EXCEPTIONS TO GRAVITY,’ you missed one fun time. If you didn’t take your children or grandchildren to see Avner, you deprived them of an experience they would not quickly have forgotten.

As is the case with shows that are “child-friendly,” I took my grandsons (Alex—12, Noah—10 and Ian—7), who have picked up the tag-name “The Kid Reviewers,” to see the show presented by the Jewish Community Center and Playhouse Square Center. Their evaluation? A perfect 10 out of 10 from each of them. Noah wanted to know if he could give Avner a 12, but rules are rules, so 10 it is!

Take a creative elder statesman, add a broom, a sweater, an alarm clock, a hat, popcorn, paper cups, a ladder, a newspaper, toilet paper and napkins and you have all you need for a show of magic, illusion and audience pleasure.

Avner Eisenberg has the knack of knowing how to “play an audience.” He jumps off the stage, has the light person bring the illumination up and down to introduce his coming down into the audience, plays around with those in the front rows, and then sets the mood for his on-stage shticks. He “scolded” the late comers. He took a paper away from a man in the second row, proceed to rip it up, balance the pieces on his nose, and then put it back together. He made people change seats. He grabbed a purse from one woman and proceeded to pull out a roll of toilet paper, much to her embarrassment. He had some female in the first row kiss his “boo-boo” every time he did a prat-fall.

Avner balanced a 20-foot aluminum ladder on his forehead, ate 15 napkins, divided the audience into sections and had one group stomp on the floor while another moaned and yet another screamed louder and softer as he conducted his “human orchestra.” It was all totally delightful. And, he did the whole 90-minute show without saying one word!!!

Ian had difficulty staying in his seat. He wanted to be part of the action. His brothers had to grab him a couple of times as he vaulted toward the stage. Alex was laughing so hard at one point, he slipped off the chair. Even “cool and controlled” Noah was hysterical.

Capsule judgment: Avner the Eccentric was Avner the delightful in his recent Ohio Theatre performance. If you missed it, you missed a show that the Kid Reviewers called “great,” “terrific,” “funny,” “hysterical” and “my favorite play, ever!”