Theater & Performing Arts

Truffaldino Says No

When: Wednesdays, Thursdays, 7 p.m., Fridays, 8 p.m., Saturdays, 8 p.m. and Sundays, 5 p.m. Continues through July 22 2012

It's a testament to Ken Slatterly's skill as a playwright -- and director M. Graham Smith's deft stagecraft -- that Truffaldino Says No manages to lump so many disparate themes into a commedia dell'arte template, and still create a sparkling, perfectly symmetrical product. That said, much of the play's success owes to its dynamic and seemingly indefatigable actors, each of whom is saddled with two roles, some of which have to be on stage simultaneously. (Switching characters can be a matter of slipping on a mask or a pair of sunglasses.) William Thomas Hodgson is magnetic as the footloose, ennui-stricken title character, who belongs to a dynasty of Venetian arlecchinos (or harlequins). His mother, Colombina (Gwen Loeb), is a flirt; his love interest, Isabella (Ally Johnson), is comically dismissive. But the real star is his father, a rubber-limbed arlecchino who has the balletic elegance of a B-Boy and the comic timing of a Stooge. Played by ACT physical theater coach Stephen Buescher, he's the kind of character you could watch for hours. Through July 22 at The Ashby Stage (1901 Ashby Ave., Berkeley). $18-$25. 510-841-6500 or ShotgunPlayers.org

Rachel Swan

Price: $18-$25

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