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Open: 02/26/10- Close: 03/13/10 Craven Monkey and the Mountain of Fury
Reviewed for By: Lauren Wissot

If you happened to miss the hit simian smackdown "Craven Monkey and the Mountain of Fury" this past December at The Brick Theater's Fight Fest you're in luck. Piper McKenzie Productions is bringing the bug-picking monkeys and eye-popping predators back to The Brick for another delightful run. Wordless save for the disembodied voice of a narrator - played by writer/director Jeff Lewonczyk in the manner of a BBC talking head dryly presenting a nature documentary - piped in over the Darwinian proceedings the play follows the story of one gangly monkey's journey from blissful ignorance to self-conscious awareness. Which is pretty poignant philosophical stuff for a show that begins and ends with some playfully lewd monkey humping.

Employing an ethereal, silent film acting style the entire cast - from Adrian Jevicki as The Craven Monkey to Hope Cartelli as The Vital Spirit - create a magical world through their bodies ever in motion across a stage bare save for four black boxes. The use of evocative lighting in lieu of any fantastical set design smartly keeps from distracting from the real stars of the show - Julianne Kroboth's arresting costumes and Qui Nguyen and Adam Swiderski's truly thrilling fight choreography. Looking like a rag doll version of "The Wizard of Oz" the characters' outfits range from a loud and shiny, Statue of Liberty type ensemble (The Vital Spirit) to a Fire Minion clad in what could pass for a Chinese kite. (Then there's the giant, aqua blue octopus creature manned by four actors that resembles an animated art installation.) The martial arts scenes, staged to a perfectly simple and tribal score made up of everything from thrash metal to electropop, even incorporate capoeira, rendering them less Bruce Lee than African modern dance meets Kabuki. Indeed, the show is so otherworldly vivid it practically begs for a children's matinee performance. If only those monkey-brained primates weren't so obsessed with food and sex.

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