Tim Barsky's new play, 7 Beggars, leaves us begging for more

I have no idea why Tim Barsky is not a huge household name; he is a megatalent. The Oakland-based Barsky is an unbelievable beatboxer, heartfelt storyteller, poet, flutist, and even a hip-hop harpist. This show is an urban reworking of a 19th-century epic folktale by Reb Nachman (the founder of Breslov Hasidic Judaism). The story has many levels, involving magical visits from a series of beggars who each impart wisdom about love and justice, war and revolution. At times the plot can be confusing to follow, but it serves as a loose structure for Barsky to combine his personal narrative and beliefs in quite an emotionally affecting show. He shares the stage with the very talented Brandi Brandes, who plays all sorts of live percussion while Barsky electronically loops a sound tapestry of rain, wind, traffic sounds, and beats created live with his voice to underscore the story. He switches easily from some clowning worthy of Cirque du Soleil to syncopated poetry about Oakland's violence. The small and unassuming Climate Theater, under the new and thoughtful direction of Jessica Heidt, makes true to its motto: Small Theater, Big Art.

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