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The Twin Brothers

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THE TWIN BROTHERS, Billy Goat Experiment, at Voltaire. The seven Billy Goat experimenters do their best to clutter up this adaptation of the Brothers Grimm with artsy, deconstructionist gimmicks: a narrator who bridges scene changes with echolalic incantations, a biography of the authors in the middle of the text, a gruesome (thankfully brief) dissertation on methods of execution. But both the players and the audience seem to have more fun when the Billy Goat Experiment abandons attitude and embraces the aesthetic of traditional story theater.

Using shadow puppets, masks, hand-jive games, Peking Opera-style legerdemain, audience participation, swift physical action, and some delightfully goofy gags, the company takes us through the adventures of two charmed siblings. Assisted by a bevy of extremely accomplished animals, all played by Catherine Jarboe, the pair slaughter two-headed dragons, win the love of princesses, defeat duplicitous villains and evil witches, and generally reap the rewards of the pure in heart. With a shift from its late-night slot at Voltaire and a little softening of its language, this could be bright, original family entertainment instead of yet another would-be cynical slap at a much abused literary genre.

--Mary Shen Barnidge

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