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This is the first Idiot String show that’s not performed in the persona of comically eccentric traveling theatrical troupe Samuel Peaches’ Peripatetic Players. It’s also the company’s first original play that isn’t a theatrical adaptation of preexisting stories. Idiot String and its Peripatetic Players debuted at the 2013 San Francisco Fringe Festival with “O Best Beloved,” an adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s “Just So Stories” that went on to become their first touring show. After that came more animal fables in 2015 with “Aesop Amuck,” followed by “Shakespeare or Space Wars” in 2016, a zany mashup of “Romeo and Juliet” and the wildly popular space fantasy epic with the names slightly altered.
Even so, “Elixir of Life” is another traveling show that’s centered around ballet shoes for toddlers a fictional traveling show, “The seller and her assistants have their own medicine show,” explains co-artistic director Rebecca Longworth, who directs the show and wrote it with some brainstorming from the performers, “That includes a little vaudeville act, it includes some sleight-of-hand and illusion, a little song and dance and a really nice story, kind of an epic quest story, They entertain the audience and sell the bottles of elixir and make it a circusy, exciting entertainment.”..
The seed of the story came from a few sentences that co-artistic director and performer Joan Howard ran across in something she was reading. “Joan had a book that was going over different variants of street performance, and it mentioned medicine shows and then it mentioned this apocryphal story,” Longworth says. “We’re not sure if this was a play or an urban legend or what it was, but it had this half of a paragraph about a seller that comes to town to raise the dead but the townspeople decide that they don’t want it after all, and the seller is forced to leave in the night.
“That was pretty much as ballet shoes for toddlers long as it was, half a paragraph, this little tiny tidbit that captured our imagination, It just started blossoming from this one snippet that Joan found in a book somewhere.”, As the troupe has continued to flesh out the story, the snake oil sellers and townsfolk have taken on a life of their own, “Now in rehearsals we’re not only rehearsing the script, but we’re also tweaking it and finding new angles on things,” Longworth says, “The way these small tweaks ripple out into maybe a new plot twist or new aspect of a character is thrilling and terrifying, It’s a pretty interesting town that we’ve created, I think..
“The town has had its own share of mysterious happenings, or miracles maybe, one of which being that it was a really big shipping port and one day the water disappeared. It’s been on a boom and now bust, and the people who stayed there all have their different reasons for staying there. We were joking the other day that each of these characters could have their own show. There could be a movie about this character that we never see. We’ve really delved deep into the imaginative life of the town and the characters, and it’s super fertile and super exciting.”.
There are few things funnier than watching someone dig himself deeper and deeper into trouble with a web of ridiculous lies, You wonder how he’s going to wriggle out of this mess he’s created or whether it’ll all come crashing down on him, Such flamboyant prevarication has been a feature of many comedies over the centuries, but, perhaps obviously, it’s the main subject of “The Liar,” the delightful 17th-century comedy that Center Repertory Company is performing at ballet shoes for toddlers Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts..
The 1644 comedy by Pierre Corneille, a French playwright better known in his time for his tragedies, was based on “La verdad sospechosa,” a 1634 comedy by Mexican-born Spanish playwright Juan Ruiz de Alarcon. Corneille’s “Le menteur” features a flamboyant fabulist seemingly incapable of telling the truth, paired with a servant who can’t tell a lie. His inability to keep track of what he’s said to whom soon spins out of control, combined with comic confusion over which one of a pair of inseparable friends he’s wooing.
The comedy is only accentuated by contemporary playwright David Ives (“All in the Timing,” ballet shoes for toddlers “Venus in Fur”) in a 2010 adaptation that first hit the Bay Area in 2012 at Marin Shakespeare Company, Far from shying away from the original verse of the play, Ives revels in it, The relentless rhyming feels glib and a bit exhausting at first, but it soon wins us over through sheer absurdity, and a lot of the humor of this adaptation lies in the outrageous lengths Ives will go in the ridiculous rhymes he concocts, At one point our roguish hero tells the woman he’d previously called a clam because she didn’t talk much, ‘You may be a bivalve, but you’re my valve.”..