Imagine, if you can, a few members of the percussion show Stomp joining several martial arts experts, acrobats, acting students, and jazz dancers. Toss in one vaudeville-style clown and two percussionists, and you've got this show, an 80-minute performance piece that is a bit of everything mentioned above but not enough of anything to be coherent, compelling, or more than mildly interesting. Former Stomp cast member Ameenah Kaplan, who created and directs this piece, says in her program note that it began as a collection of vignettes combining dance and theatre elements from her training at NYU--and it seems to still be just that. The wisp of a plot serves as a jumping point for a series of aerobic elements.
Everyman (Michael Gallagher) is born into the world by pushing through a large, elastic swath of fabric. Dressed like a classic silent-movie era clown-white dress shirt and black pants-Everyman is given a book titled Law of the Land that explains through simple rules how to survive life's challenges. The rules include "take it all in," go with the flow," "mate and propagate," and "find your place." Each rule is followed by sequences featuring Gallagher and an athletic ensemble, including an extended stick fight, martial arts kicks, and a rhythmic gymnastics display (Vanessa Vander Pluym, a former competitive gymnast).
Kaplan has fashioned a high-octane performance, but none of the scenes are original, nor are they as remarkable as anything in Stomp or the plethora of popular Cirque shows from the last two decades. The ensemble has varied physical skills, though only Gallagher's performance can qualify as acting. He does a passable job as a wide-eyed stranger tossed into several scenarios, and his comic timing provides a few scattered laughs. Kaplan deserves praise for this attempt, but the production fails to deliver anything new.
Presented by Silverback Productions at Unknown Theater, 1110 Seward St., Hollywood. Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m. Apr. 7-29. (323) 466-7781. www.unknowntheater.com.