Boutique circus Sweet Can packs punch, charm

Courtesy photoBeth Clarke is among the amazing performers in “Yes Sweet Can

If you love Cirque du Soleil but welcome a respite from its glitz and glamour (not to mention its admission prices), you’ll be captivated by the hometown troupe Sweet Can, a petite boutique circus that presents an annual holiday show, gracefully directed by choreographer Joanna Haigood of ZACCHO Dance Theatre.

“Yes Sweet Can,” with its loosey-goosey narrative and up-close feats of skill and wonder, appeals to kids and adults alike (a companion piece, “Mittens and Mistletoe,” is geared more specifically toward kids).

We haven’t seen the likes of this type of unpretentious acrobatic entertainment since the days of the Pickle Family Circus and its followup, the New Pickle Circus.

Sweet Can, established in 2006, differs from the erstwhile Pickles, though. Among other things, Sweet Can has no clowns per se. The four main performers each play quirky versions of their own personae, framed as a group of friends teasing and amusing one another indoors on a stormy day.

Musician-composer Eric “eO” Oberthaler mostly lurks in the background, accompanying the antics on trumpet and with an electronic console and some singing (a smooth “Fly Me to the Moon” with performer Natasha Kaluza).

The simplest of props suffice to enhance the various acts: stacks of newspapers, umbrellas (for a luminous final tableau), a low coffee table, a few footstools, a vase of flowers and such. (And yes, the obligatory rubber chicken does make a brief appearance.)

Among the individual performances are contortionist (and company cofounder) Kerri Kresinski’s tissu act; cofounder Beth Clarke’s slackrope solo; an energetic dance with multiple hula hoops by Kaluza, who’s easily the most expressively comical member of the ensemble, and whose hilarious mimed kissing sketch, in which she ventures into the rapt audience, is an absolute gem.

A trio of humanoid, tap-dancing garbage cans is a delight. (The program warns kids not to stick their heads into garbage cans at home.)

Some new sequences were added to the one-hour show this year, including a balancing act in which Clarke cheers up a glum Kresinski by making — and sipping, while upside-down — a cup of cocoa in the oddest manner imaginable.

But it’s Kaluza’s rubbery, goofy charm, and a few elegant feats like White’s nimble, romantic pas de deux with a broom, and Kresinski’s sensual aerial art, that pack the most punch.

 

THEATER REVIEW

Yes Sweet Can

Presented by Sweet Can

Where: Dance Mission Theatre, 3316 24th St., San Francisco
When: 2:30 & 4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Dec. 29; 4 and 8 p.m. Dec. 30; 2 p.m. Dec 31 and Jan. 1
Tickets: $15 to $60
Contact: (415) 225-7281, sweetcanproductions.com

Note: “Mittens and Mistletoe” runs at 8 p.m. Friday, and 2 and 4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday

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