The samurai schtick often comes off as overplayed—whether in art-house or campy productions. Not so in Bandage, though, Kit Bihun’s knock-’em/knife-’em play now showing at the Brick.
That’s because Bihun, who also stars in the show, brings classic clowning to the fray. This comedy—about what happens when the members of a tight-knit clown clan go down separate career paths—mashes up Stephanie Willing’s thoughtfully choreographed martial arts with a familial fracas. The production is part of the theater’s Fight Fest, a series dedicated to onstage ass-kickery.
Yeah, Bandage’s concept sounds balls-to-the-wall off-beat, but it works without being too disjointed or vaudeville. Both samurai and clowning get lampooned, but in an unexpected, engaging way: spoof via epic experiment rather than hyperbole, if you will. Fratricide, often treated by “classic” dramatists with austerity, winds up being rather slapstick. Meanwhile, that mischievousness and linguistic loopiness characteristic of clowns has dark consequences here—grisly, widespread death.
The rub: The play, directed by Snehal Desai, excels conceptually, but the characters have a stiff vibe at times, like the acting couldn’t consistently keep up with the script. Still, that snafu is minor: The one-act might not be a seamless, ribald knee-slapper, but it has many moments of sword-sharp wit.