A Tale of a Tiger/The Man Himself

Faith comes in many forms—even science has its equivalent in the Uncertainty Principle—but distinguishing the genuine article from the ersatz can be a slippery slope. In these two one-man one-acts, internationally-acclaimed performer Ami Dayan contrasts markedly different takes on this elusive phenomena and provides a host of compelling insights in the process.

Nobel laureate Dario Fo's A Tale of the Tiger is at once a cautionary political allegory and a redemptive Homeric epic. Dayan's free adaptation mixes the innocence of classic storytelling with the practicality of contemporary humor to draw us in to a fabulous world where all things are possible.

Ami Dayan in A Tale of a Tiger
Ami Dayan in A Tale of a Tiger
As a wounded Chinese soldier, given up for dead by his comrades, Dayan makes the most of Fo's penchant for breaking the fourth wall by establishing an engaging dialogue with the audience and then leveraging this bond to invest them in his adventure.

Miki Ben Cnaan's versatile set-representing a mountain and a cave, as well a tigress' underbelly-serves Dayan's imaginative and graceful approach as he imitates man and beast alike, while framing the folk tale with a series of topical references worthy of the best comedy club satire.

Finally, with Fo's blessing, Dayan reconceives the story's ending to emphasize the connection between healing and faith and turns responsibility for employing these powers back on the audience, revealing a crucial but generally ignored element of Western spirituality latent in this colorful Oriental drama.

Ami Dayan in The Man Himself
Ami Dayan in The Man Himself
In Alan Drury's The Man Himself, faith appears in an entirely different, illusory form. A solitary man sits in a pool of light in limbo. His features are washed out. Life has conspired to make him "the most inconspicuous person" imaginable.

His failed marriage, dead-end job, and deteriorating neighborhood turn his story into haunting claustrophobic confession that examines the appeal of fundamentalism to those stewing in bitterness and bigotry, and turns him into a poster-child for "the banality of evil" that lurks in each of our shadows. "It's not my business. I'm only doing what I'm told," he says.

In this run, Dayan has trimmed back his expansive adaptation first performed at last year's Boulder International Fringe Festival (which led to a contract for the screenplay) and turns inward on the machinations of repressed hostility so rife in the evangelical movement. Drury's script, rich in biographic detail, serves as a well-calibrated mainspring for Dayan's portrait of a human time bomb ticking down to the wake-up call.

Gradually tightening his subject's coil, Dayan's mood segues through shades of control, suspicion, and anger, as the man himself screws up his courage on nicotine, sugar, and the easy answers of born-again dogma, preparing to take his stand.

Juxtaposing the two pieces, Dayan offers us a litmus test for faith. "And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?" Shall it be Fo's tiger with its healing balm or Drury's serpent with its lethal venom?

The last three performances of Bas Bleu Theatre Company's presentation of Ami Dayan's adaptations of A Tale of a Tiger and The Man Himself run Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, August 17th-19th, at 7:30 pm. 970-498-8949.

Bob Bows


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