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Theater Review: "Giant Bones" at Exit Theatre

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Through June 19 at Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Mason), S.F. $20-$30;650-728-8098 or www.giantbonesplay.com.

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By rights, the premiere run of Giant Bones is where everything could go wrong. Its structure is a play-within-a-play-within-a-play. It's a fantasy, filled with unfamiliar elements and species. It has a large cast whose characters are difficult to keep track of (one is frequently referred to as Blond Ingénue, another as Brown Ingénue), with each actor playing multiple parts. Intimidated? Better to be intrigued: It all works. Giant Bones is that rare play that does everything perfectly. The plot, a collection of fables woven into the story of how a theater troupe was banished from a city, is easy to follow. The script, based on short stories by Peter S. Beagle, is engaging, funny, and profound (in that order), and the actors have great fun chewing the scenery in the first act and turning in deft and nuanced performances in the second. The set is minimal but evocative; the sound cues are superb. Okay, the theater was too warm — that didn't go right — but everything else makes for a high-energy, thought-provoking show. I'd suggest keeping your programs so you can say you were there, but audience members get a free, limited-edition Beagle book as a memento. See? Giant Bones just nails it.

 
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