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Peter B. Brown in
Fairy Tales of the Absurd
(Photo © Rick Allen)
No one was more impressed with Fairy Tales of the Absurd than the little girl sitting in front of me. At intermission, she suddenly announced that "arms means legs," a humorous idea from the one-act we had just seen. While many adults may find the show merely enjoyable and humorous, this child savored the zany nature of the fairy tales; she even clapped at the third tale's "happily ever after" marriage of two heads that shared the same body.

Untitled Theater Company #61's Fairy Tales was previously performed in the company's Ionesco Festival and last year's Fringe Festival. The show consists of two short plays by Ionesco, "To Prepare a Hard Boiled Egg" and "Tales for Children," and one play written by director Edward Einhorn. All three display a similar tone of humor on the odd side. While the tales are meant for children, they will also be enjoyed by adults who are still able to appreciate this kind of entertainment.

"To Prepare a Hard Boiled Egg," the shortest segment of the night, concerns an obsessive chef (Peter Brown) who teaches the audience how to cook the perfect hard boiled egg. Entering the stage to the tune of a vamp-like theme song, this fellow defines the sort of self-obsessed showman who takes himself too seriously. Clad in a large chef's hat, he declares himself to be the master of the "nourishing and healthy food" that is the hard boiled egg. Thrusting the egg into boiling water, he stands completely still in a state of total concentration for a full minute, never blinking or moving once. He also lectures the audience on the difference between the hard boiled egg, the soft boiled egg, the raw egg, the bird egg, and the duck egg. And, oh yes, he shows us the perfect way to crack the shell of a hard boiled egg. Throughout, Brown is highly amusing.

Barely seven minutes long, the chef's monologue serves as an opener for the longer pieces that follow. "Tales for Children" revolves around the wild adventures of a little girl named Josette (Uma Incrocci) who begs her father (John Blaylock) to tell her stories. As young Josette, Uma Incrocci operates a two-foot puppet located at her knees, dressed exactly like her in a pink dress. Josette's father -- a very odd man who is said to have attended the theater, a movie, and a puppet show every night of the week -- describes worlds where children can walk on the sun and where familiar words have opposite meanings: "telephone" means "cheese," "pillow" means "bread," and so on.

Uma Incrocci in
Fairy Tales of the Absurd
(Photo © Arthur Cornelius)
Based on stories that Ionesco told his daughter and adapted by Einhorn, this short play is likely to be more entertaining for children than adults, as its title suggests. Based on a child's mind-boggling adventures, it features some inventive imagery. For example: At one point, the father describes a bizarre world where everyone is named "Jacqueline." As more and more Jacquelines are described, dozens of identical dolls are thrown onto the stage.

"One Head Too Many," the only piece written entirely by Einhorn, bears the closest resemblance to a typical fairy tale with good guys, a villain, and star-crossed lovers. Set on another planet, it tells the story of a royal princess (Uma Incrocci) who grows a second head due to a bargain her father had made with a witch. The plot actually bears a striking resemblance to The Little Mermaid; its most humorous sequence is when the king's father, after years of separation, is found in the form of a bowl of pudding.

Are there "absurd" meanings behind these tales? Well, there are some ironic lines peppered throughout -- especially in "Tales for Children" -- that only adults are likely to understand, but the show as a whole is not as dark as its title implies. Even so, adults should be able to enjoy it as much as kids if they're still in touch with their inner childlike spirit. Fairy Tales of the Absurd is a fun-filled hour-and-a-half of family-oriented theater.

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