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Review: April Fools

By Jane Durrell · June 5th, 2009 · Fringe

Critic's Pick

They’re out chatting up the audience before the show begins, the April Fools, natty in costumes derived from Brooks Brothers but veered so far from that decorous house as to be unrecognizable to the source. Summer cord suit jackets, an argyle sweater, a bow tie worn boldly as a chocker. And everybody barefoot, trousers mostly rolled.

They deal in pure fun, prodigiously, as though it were going out of style. As it almost has. About half way through I recognized the great laughs The April Fools elicited were never triggered by profanities. In fact, at one point, one of them says, “What the haystack!” laying to waste that old standard beginning with H. Imagine that, a comedy program at a Fringe Festival in which the words that can’t be printed in a newspaper don’t appear either. And are never missed.

The set is simple: cardboard boxes in an irregular line across the stage. The boxes are important. One, containing a valuable contribution from the audience, is stolen and provides the plot, such as it is.

Another takes on personality and certain magical powers. It is the “Poetry Box.” When tragedy strikes (tragedy and comedy are inextricably linked, didn’t you know?) a “Eulogy Box” appears and is put to moving use by each of the Fools.

The April Fools are individual in their foolishness. Jason Ballweber, round-faced and smiling, is guileless as a guppy. Nick Ryan manages, in a stunning tour de force, to be both villain and conqueror of villain. Brant Miller and Matt Spring present themselves as either a guitar-playing, sort-of-sophisticate or the fellow whom each of the others imagines naked. I’m not sure, exactly, who was which. There were amazing feats of marshmallow tossing, caught every time but once in the mouth of an April Fool. Not to worry, the audience was advised when he missed, “It’s only a marshmallow.” Behind all the goofiness is on-the-minute comic timing and physical dexterity disguised as anything but.

A disembodied voice gives orders (“No kazoos!) and provides Techno music. The music brings each of the Fools perilously close to seasickness, but we move quickly on to the next thing, which proves to be a diatribe about science. “Science makes me sick!” Take that, all you guys in labs.

The Four Fools were a hit here last year, winning Producers’ Pick, and are back with a whole new show that looks to me sharper and funnier than their previous production. If you like a good time with four not so naughty but really, really funny fellows, stop by to see April Fools. They can make me laugh in May, June or July.

Performed at Know Theatre through June 6. See performance dates and preview here.



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