Tuesday, December 19, 2006

You'll fall for Avner

Ah, Father Time – as Avner the Eccentric might admit (if he broke his vow of mime omerta), he’s something of a comedian. What looked edgy twenty years ago now seems as comfy as an old (or soft) shoe – much like Avner’s act, which was part of the intellectually prickly “new vaudeville” of the 80’s, but over the years has self-distilled to an essence of classic clowning, performed with low-key precision and an utter lack of pretension. “Exceptions to Gravity,” Avner’s latest (although it amounts to a revival of his greatest) takes its title from everyman’s - and everyclown’s - battle with that ultimate unstoppable force, against which only the forces of prestidigitation (and laughter) can triumph. Avner of course offers both in copious amounts. His sudden tricks (which punctuate oops-I-dropped-it routines) yoke the most banal of props – newspapers, napkins, and paper cups – to a seemingly superhuman sense of balance (to Avner, enticing a sheet of paper to float in space, en pointe, on the tip of his nose, is just a warm-up for later miracles). There's some existential folderol in the program about Waiting for Godot, et. al., but mercifully none of this surfaces on stage (and at any rate, if Didi and Gogo had met Avner, they'd have forgotten all about Godot). Avner keeps things simple and sweet, to a klezmer beat (the perfect Christmas music). You can still catch him, baggy pants and all, at the Lyric Stage, through Dec. 23, and be sure to bring the kids; the children at the show I attended were screaming with laughter, their Playstations and i-pods long forgotten - which somehow gives one hope for humanity.

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