Legs and All
nytheatre.com review by Robert Attenweiler
February 28, 2010
Romantic relationships are bound to have their ups and their downs. But there is one constant that a couple can always count on: their struggle for a pink rubber ball. This is one of the central metaphors of Legs and All, a two-person clown show now playing at Under St. Marks as part of FRIGID New York. The ball is the power in any romantic relationship, power that, like a ball, may be withheld, coveted, taken by force, or chased after as it playfully bounces away.
Legs and All is full of little games that all, like the one with the ball, take its audience through the bizarre but very sweet courtship of a man and a woman whom he finds in a box in his attic. The performers, Summer Shapiro and Peter Musante, both have a committed awkwardness which a) works for clowns and b) works for two people at the early stages of a relationship. Of course, comedy usually ensues from both a and b.
The man finds the woman in a box. He is then pulled into the box which, it turns out, is a portal to the woman's world where she sets the table for the two to have dinner, only for the plans to be undone when the man doesn't like the water that she's poured him (in his defense, she has, like a fountain, spat the water into his glass) and they both get cake on their face. The two go back through the box and return to the man's attic where, among other things, they play with the ball.
Shapiro conceived the piece and created it with her co-star, Musante. Both of them are strong clowns and physical performers.
Legs and All bills itself as "an allegory for the classic man-meets-woman story" and, as that, it is generally effective. In hindsight, bits like the one with the ball seem a little on the nose, but for a nearly dialogue-free show, those bits are very useful in making sure the audience stays with the story. In its best moments, Legs and All is fun and visually interesting. It struggles, though, when the games the two performers play are based too heavily on one advancing and the other retreating, which makes the bits begin to feel repetitive. Shapiro and Musante are highly imaginative performers and Legs and All might be a more satisfying show if they pushed the comedic possibilities of their allegory even further.