Seven in One Blow, or the Brave Little Kid
nytheatre.com review by Heather McAllister
December 8, 2012
Seven in One Blow, by Randy Sharp and Axis Company, tells in English Pantomime style the Brothers Grimm tale of The Brave Little Tailor. You know, the “small but brave tailor” who kills seven flies in one swat and is so proud of himself he writes it on his belt. Then, when people misunderstand and believe seven people were done in, does he crumble? No! He shows how confidence, spin and heart matter much more than physical size and brute strength. Flies schmies! He IS brave!
Axis Company takes the heart of this tale, updates it, makes it hilarious and touching and appropriate for all ages, while remaining true to the morals: when you believe in yourself, you can accomplish great things, AND, don’t judge a book by its cover. In the Axis Company version, the little tailor is a latchkey city kid with absent parents, seeking adventure and friends yet hoping most of all to be missed, to be loved and wanted, and for “M and P” to return.
Performed in the style of an “English Pantomime” - family entertainment that’s also a little bit cheeky - it’s fun and fast paced, with clear narration by a two hobo/dead end kid types, “Mac” and “Frankie,” Marc Palmieri and David Crabb. As the “kid,” Lynn Mancinelli drives the story along with equal parts earnest, sweet and adorable. The wildly varied and strongly portrayed foes the kid meets along the way include a wonderfully scary “ogre,” Jim Sterling, a quick and witty “qk,” George Demas, and the always amazing Spencer Aste as a terrifying “witch.” Brian Barnhart, wonderful as the true to his own self no matter what others may say “Scarlett Pimpernell,” sums it up rather nicely: “We all have things that make us feel strong that no one knows about. We’re all secretly brave I think.” The message of the show was put across so gently and sincerely I found it really heartwarming.
The original music by author/director Randy Sharp is sweet, and the spirited dance (with uncredited choreography) by “Princess Fartina,” the lovely Britt Genelin, really livens things up. The costumes by Elisa Santiago are gorgeous, clever, and lush. Lighting by David Zeffren is by turns moody and bright. The whole production zooms along, smart and clever, with a heart as big as the kid’s.
At the conclusion of the adventure – which features a filmed cameo by Debbie Harry - the audience is encouraged to sing along and although I usually loathe audience participation, in this case I didn’t mind!
Since this is a “family play” I brought my children Clayton 13, and Jake, 4. This was Jake’s first play, and he was at times so terrified - the ogre, the witch! - he jumped under his seat, but the tale and the performers are so engaging he overcame his fear, crawled out from under his seat, and summoned the courage to whisper hello to the princess and the witch after the show. (Bonus: They hand out candy to the children!) We all loved it. It’s a great show for adults, big kids and little ones too.