Magical Exploding Boy
nytheatre.com review by Judith Jarosz
August 20, 2010
Dean Evans is a professional clown, mime artist, actor, and director, who is currently a faculty member at the Second City Training Center and the head instructor for Chicago Physical Theater. In this mesmerizing one man show Magical Exploding Boy, with a set of a few chairs, a trunk, a ladder, and various props, Evans uses highly impressive and communicative body control to serve us up a cornucopia of delightful vignettes.
Bringing to mind a young Bill Irwin (I'm sure he's heard that one before) Evans uses his high cheekbones, wide-set eyes, agile frame, and long spidery fingers to full effect, smoothly gliding from one eclectic scene to the next, keeping his audience rapt, or in stitches, or both. In one scene he encounters two simple chairs with dual energies. Touching one makes him euphoric, and the other makes him sorrowful. What happens when he touches both is a treat best witnessed live. There's an encounter with an evil doll who slowly tries to take over his body and soul, a visit with an astronaut growing a menacing foliage in space, and an underwater scenario with two squid-like creatures that are all vastly entertaining. In another scene Evans portrays both a tough guy and a wimpy one who come to fisticuffs. Watching him play both characters in the same scene with the different physicalities and facial expressions is just a delight. The physical fitness and expressiveness needed for this art form is mind boggling. Picture a professional gymnast who can act without lines. Evans even brings some of the audience into the act, which at the performance I attended worked out to riotous effect. To all of this add a sense of joy and comedic timing that is so important for making this type of performance work so well.
Rachel Singer is listed as the Technical Stylist, and I can only assume she is at least partly responsible for the wonderful and varied musical choices (everything from '80s pop to electronic to "The Boy from Ipanema"), costumes (whimsical and quirky, yet highly functional), and creative lighting effects (the underwater and outer space scenes are awesome) that accompany the scenes. These choices are crucial to the success of a piece like this and work here perfectly.
Watching this one-hour show leaves you with a sense of childhood wonderment and glee that few of us would want to live without.