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Leo

Tobias Wegner's utterly delightful solo show combines acrobatics and film.

By New York City
Tobias Wegner in Leo
(© Heiko Kaimbach)
Tobias Wegner in Leo
(© Heiko Kaimbach)
You're likely to find yourself grinning like a fool while watching Circle of Eleven's Leo, now playing the Clurman Theatre on Theatre Row. This utterly delightful show -- the winner of the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe -- combines acrobatics and film work to create a rather unique piece of theater.

The piece, directed by Danie Briere, features a terrific performance by Tobias Wegner, who also came up with the original idea for the piece, In it, a man finds himself in a room where gravity goes amok, chalk drawings come to life, and a suitcase holds more than initially appears.

On one half of the stage, Wegner performs live, utilizing his impressive strength and balancing abilities to strike various poses. On the other side of the stage is a large screen onto which a live feed of Wegner is projected -- except that it is from a different vantage point to make it appear that one of the walls of the room the performer inhabits is actually the floor.

It's quite fun to see how Wegner's live performance gets transformed once it shows up on screen. Many of the more impressive physical feats that he enacts are simply to make things appear "normal." Conversely, simple movements such as crawling on the floor take on new life in the filmed sequence as it looks as if Wegner is literally climbing up the wall.

The show's musical selections, which range from African drums to Frank Sinatra, help to set the mood for various sections of the performance, and the choreography from Juan Kruz Diaz de Garaio Esnaola, well performed by Wegner, is both whimsical and athletic.

Among the show's highlights is a sequence wherein Wegner makes a chalk drawing on the wall of simple objects such as a chair, table, etc. -- and then starts using them! Things take an even more surreal twist once Ingo Panke's animations are layered over the projected footage (video design is by Heiko Kalmbach).

Aside from a few short verbal exclamations, the piece is basically wordless. However, Wegner is adept at conveying the different emotions that his character experiences throughout the show. He is sometimes filled with joy; at other times he's quite sad.

There's a kind of Beckettian sensibility to the entire enterprise, as the man strives to find meaning in his sometimes senseless environment, passes the time by making up games for himself to play, and longs to escape from his lonely existence.


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