Pre-Teen ISH

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Review: 4-ISH
At the Children’s Theater

“He-he-he,” my reluctant companion sniggles in spite of himself within the first five minutes of the spectacle. It was a slapstick shtick of someone getting their nards crushed—an evident sale with the crowd.

Merging traditions as time-honored as the circus and as contemporary as GameCube, the Netherlands-based troupe, ISH, spews a protean mix of acrobatics, dance, sound, and video in the current Children’s Theatre Company Production, 4-ISH.

“They’re making fun of (Japanese anime) Dragon Ball Z,” my 12-year-old companion gushes at an incomprehensible fight scene. Jump cut to rapper MC Thor, with virtuosic vocal imitations of scratching, rhythm samples, and Tuvan throat singing. Segue to the rapper in a dueling beatbox number with a deejay. Throw in a full-stage halfpipe with former X-games rollerblade champion Sven Boekhorst and live-feed video backdrop and you have a visual all-you-can-eat buffet—no attention span required.

“How they spin on their head so long, that’s my favorite,” my companion says of the break dancing. My own favorite is the slow motion tongue-in-cheek wire fight.

Riding home, my companion blankly plucks Gameboy keys, vanquishing enemies with the nonchalance of the handsprings and human pyramids we had witnessed. But still waters run deep. “I‚m still miffed,” he spills, without looking up, “that you didn’t tell me how good it was going to be on the way there.”

Claire Allyn is a freelance writer.

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