A clarinet solo fills the darkened Joyce Theater; the aching melody evokes the shtetls of old Europe. The stage explodes with the fluid exuberance of the Gyor National Ballet Theater of Hungary in Purim: The Casting of Fate (closed). Incorporating musicians into the action, these dancers don’t just tack on modern chops, they dig into the floor with weight and abandon, clean lines, and delicate softness. Ferenc “Fegya” Jávori’s klezmer score embodies the joy and soulfulness of Jewish life, relentlessly propelling William Fomin and István Juhos’s choreography. The heroine’s one moment of quiet stillness upstages a frenzy of male bravura. Despite the vivid theatricality, a certain random danciness bypasses details of plot, assuming the audience already knows how Queen Esther saved her people. This crowd does, and the cast enchants with strong characterizations, slapstick, fire, and heart. —Suki John
At what seems like a never ending party, performers play musical chairs to determine who’ll be part of the evening’s Smart Set (reopening at the Flea, March 17-April 1) by Leigh Garrett, Katie Workum, and Ayla Yavin. Based loosely on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Smart Set wittily recreates a party within the liberal social conventions of Gatsby’s Jazz Age. Each performer’s a caricature marked by an idée fixe—the smooth player constantly slinking across the stage into the arms of ladies, the Oxford graduate whose only line is “I’m an Oxford graduate,” the neurotic girl who jerks and twitches at any touch. The formal conventions that rule the flapper-like dance and speech at the beginning degenerate into manic mimicry toward the end. Dancers collectively crumple, and rise to their feet repeatedly. Party conversation starts sounding like a broken record. Before you know it, the performers are hanging off the furniture and each other.