According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Fan Yang: Gazillion Bubble Show

Fan Yang's Bubble Show is what dreams are made of: magic, wonder, and a touch of hot air.

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Reviewed by Cait Weiss

There comes a moment in every young New Yorker’s life when she realizes that Fan Yang, Bubble Artist Extraordinaire, has (among many other impressive feats) blown a bubble larger than her Manhattan studio apartment.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Fan Yang might have burst my bubble, but he keeps his own aloft and abundant. His show, accurately titled Fan Yang: Gazillion Bubble Show, is an extravaganza of bubbles: little bubbles, big bubbles, bubbles inside of bubbles, smoke-filled opaque bubbles, towers of bubbles, candy-colored bubbles, and more. In short, you will see a hell of a lot of bubbles here. Still, what really impressed me wasn’t the amount of bloated soap film floating through the air, but the equally copious amount of joy that his bubbles seemed to inspire. In this hyper-hi-tech world of Wiis and iPods (and the 8 year-olds who love them), Fan Yang gets kids jumping out of their seats, giggling and giddy, all over a bunch of bubbles.

But the bubble madness doesn't stop there. Video reenactments and narratives are sprinkled throughout the performance, separating Fan’s feats of bubble wonder and allowing the good-humored crew the time they need to replace one massive bubble-making set piece with another. While a few of these video projections work by giving the Bubble Show structure and context, the majority of these segments are, at best, uninteresting and, at worse, maudlin clich├ęs.

True, some of these video clips are charming in their "Anything Can Happen if You Just Believe" message, but the show doesn’t need this dose of overblown Bubble-as-Hope metaphor. If you just watch the bubbles you know they are beautiful and, in some unexplainable way, magic. You don’t need Fan to tell you – you just feel it. The video’s heavy-handed message of hope weighs down the innate wonder in Fan Yang’s mystical world.

If I have one request for this show, it’s less talk, more bubbles. I’d forgotten what it felt like to be surrounded by bubbles – the way the light orbs brush against your skin like the lightest kiss right before they pop. Bubbles have a wonderful kind of magic, a simple kind, yes, but a universal and enduring kind as well. Video projections, however mutli-screened they may be, do not. These flaws are small, though, and in the end, the show is a wondrous, carefree celebration of simple joys.

Go see the Bubble Show– but beware. These bubbles are beauties, yes, but they are dangerous beauties. In my blissful state of regression, surrounded by these floating shards of enchantment, I let the bubbles fall on my eyelashes. For the next twenty minutes, my right eye burned like something satanic and I couldn’t stop crying. No, it wasn’t the moving reenactments of Fan Yang’s destitute and backbreaking childhood in Soviet Yugoslavia that brought me to tears – it was the cruel realization of what really happens when soap gets in your eyes. Still, before that single bubble burst, it was indeed a wonderfully beautiful show.

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New World Stages (340 W 50th St, between 8th and 9th Avenues)
Tickets ( 212-239-6200): $40.00-60.00
Performances: February 15th through September 2nd
Wednesdays at 2pm and 8pm
Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm
Saturdays at 11am, 2pm and 8pm
Sundays at 12pm, 3pm and 7pm

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