Hfob-n-Ffos, Adult Swim Ensemble, at Performance Loft. The confusion in the mythical town of Hfob-n-Ffos begins with a Sadie Hawkins-style contest sponsored by a glamorous fashion magazine. As the eligible ladies, including the geriatric Miss Ruby, scatter in search of their summer love, the bachelors swear to forever shun commitment. Soon one female is sighing over a photograph of Party of Five's Scott Wolf, while a reformed Casanova finds himself smitten with a mute waif who communicates through an array of wearable percussion instruments. His philandering buddy vows to foil this match, aided by his pet monkey and a secret brain-robbing weapon. With universal heartbreak imminent, it falls to a clever housemaid and her faithful dog to put things right.
Commedia dell'arte is too often presented as little more than a technique-driven academic exercise, but the Adult Swim Ensemble members understand that their chief goal is to be funny. Their acrobatic stunts, carefully crafted masks, and occasionally bawdy humor are all remarkably engaging--Allison Latta's portrayal of the delightfully creepy Grace might have you sleeping with the lights on for weeks. The 17 characters are so individual in voice, personality, and body movement that it's a surprise to find out at the curtain call that they're played by only six actors. --Mary Shen Barnidge