January 26, 2006.By Ed Huyck, Talkin' Broadway.
More proof that you don’t need dialogue for a fantastic night at the theater. Apart from a few “knock-knock” jokes tossed into the action, Theatre Latte Da’s Knock! features no spoken dialogue. Instead, the action of this imaginative and engaging show is presented via music, expressive onstage action and dance, and the occasional handwritten dialogue card.
Created by co-director and star Jim Lichtscheidl, Knock ! - a hit at the 2004 Minnesota Fringe Festival - takes us into the life and, more importantly, mind of 12-year-old Toehead. The show is presented as episodes of Toehead’s inner TV show about his family. So, seemingly mundane activities as going to the dentist, eating dinner or taking a long vacation by car become fodder for his active imagination.
Here’s an example. Toehead and his best friend sit down for an afternoon of playing video games together. Since the show is set somewhere in the dark days of the late 1970s and early 1980s, they use a pair of vintage Atari 2600 controllers. Gaming to the strains of Hot Butter’s “Popcorn,” the two are eventually forced outside, where their game of basketball has the same stiff actions as their vintage game - down to the giant pixel they toss around.
It helps that the quintet of performers are more than willing to go with the flow here, bringing life to every scene in the show. Alongside Lichtscheidl, Ken Rosen (Toehead's sister), Eriq Nelson (Dad), Lisa Spreeman (Mom) and Michelle Hutchison (a variety of additional roles) breathe so much life into the concept that by show’s end, it seems perfectly natural for the family to dance through their lives.
And, again, there is little irony or cynicism here. Lichtscheidl connects with his pre-teen self here, obsessed about playing games and eating candy, while at the same time feeling the first pangs of maturity. It’s still early in 2006, butKnock! is certainly play of the year material.
Theatre Latte Da’s Knock! runs at the Loring Playhouse, 1633 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, through Feb. 19. For information and tickets, call 651-209-6689.