''Rainer and the Knife'' combines an old-fashioned story - rather like a folk tale or fable - with advanced techniques that stress visual style instead of narrative development. The result is a brief but dazzling parable that lives more through its icily elegant images than through its cautionary plot about a boy who learns the perils of innocence while searching for a lost knife.
Working with a large cast but modest technical resources, Ping Chong and Rob List have created a stunning series of scenes and tableaux on the stage of the Kitchen Center, punctuating their imagery with evocative strokes of light and sound. Like similar work by Meredith Monk, the Wooster Group, and Robert Wilson, the show conjures up an utterly original world through a judicious use of theatrical technology that never loses its aesthetic perspective or its humanistic roots. It's an impressive achievement.