Adventures That Span Continents

THEATER: REVIEW

THE PEOPLE WHO COULD FLY Conceived and directed by Joe Hart. At the South Street Theatre through Sept 3. FOLKLORE, folk memory, and fairy tale mingle easily in ``The People Who Could Fly.'' Joe Hart has put together an entertainment employing elements of story theater and children's games. His highly disciplined company of 12 young players takes the spectator on a six-part adventure spanning continents and oceans.

In ``The Potmaker and the Drip'' (set in India), a humble artisan gradually and quite inadvertaintly supplants a raja. ``Spell in the Well'' (Majorca) recounts a prince's subterranean, supernatural pursuit of his princess. The title playlet, from the American South, traces a flight from slavery to freedom. ``Conquering John'' (Haiti) pits an audacious challenger against the devil himself. ``Tam Lin'' (Scotland) is a tale of the wee folk, while ``Three Strong Women'' (Japan) tells how the muscular trio turns a proud wrestler into a somewhat bemused super-champ.

The accent is on physical comedy, sight gags, and precise teamwork. Wearing an assortment of multi-colored costumes from a convenient upstage rack, the performers transform themselves instantly into the characters of the tales - not to mention the flora and fauna, the animate and inanimate props dreamed up by the director. They hop, skip, and (of course) fly; they sing and dance; they perform all sorts of gymnastics; they move in choreographed patterns.

The zest of the performance carries an audience appeal that a more sophisticated professionalism might not achieve.

The entertainment is handily served by Ron Kadri's spare setting, Vicki Esposito's costumes, Chris Gorzelnik's lighting, and Michael Calderone's extraordinary percussionism.

The touring Shoestring Players of the Warp and Woof Theater Company, as the troupe is known, have been asked for the second successive year to appear at the Edinburgh Festival.

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