Wrapping Paper Caper

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Through Jan. 4. Tickets are $10; call 826-5750 or visit www.themarsh.org.
The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), S.F.

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Wrapping Paper Caper isn't the sort of thing you can easily summarize, let alone criticize. The kid-friendly production at the Marsh is part recyclable art, part Looney Tunes. The performers behind Lunatique Fantastique use an unlikely array of inanimate objects — in this case, the trappings of holiday gift-giving such as packing peanuts, foil wrapping paper, and cardboard tubes — to do what could be loosely described as "puppetry." The story concerns a Sam Spade–type character who follows a glittery femme fatale on a free-associative journey from the ocean floor to a French restaurant and beyond. It's mostly nonsense from a narrative point of view, but the story unfolds so quickly and with so much vigor that even the grimmest of adults will have a difficult time resisting the steady stream of inspired lunacy. It's really the perfect zero-guilt distraction for kids on a cold winter afternoon — a sneakily smart show that delivers inventive, goofy pratfalls with imagination and skill. Not that you need tots as an excuse. The audience on Dec. 14 was composed mostly of adults, and they seemed as happy as kids surrounded by crumpled wrapping paper on Christmas morning.

 
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