Commedia Sans Arte ushers in a new era of comedy.
7/29-7/31 After 200 performances as the Renaissance Festival's finest improv troupe, Commedia Sans Arte -- KC's specialists in commedia dell'arte (a miming, acrobatic and often unscripted style of 16th-century performance art) -- grew tired of digging punch lines from plague and breeches. With a 20th-century "Ho!" they graduated to contemporary comedy, touring with a grown-ups-only show but still heeding some of their dell'arte traditions: The actors inhabit ye olde stock types instead of Michael Jackson and prefer spearing fairy tales over reality shows. Even as they embrace modernity, though, there's a bit of the hard-working renaissance about them. The group presents two shows this weekends (and two more next weekend) at Just Off Broadway (3051 Central, 913-371-4995). Fools, Gold, and Tears, its second stab at scripted comedy, is a stinging, satirical look at America's push toward Manifest Destiny; Commedia Latenight, a modern improv show, directly follows -- think Time Bandits, but taller. -- Scherstuhl
A good chunk of Fringe Fest shows seek to shock -- perhaps nostalgic for the days when there still were rubes to take offense. But in this wised-up age, there's little point in provocation. Why not try artistry instead? Borrowing its title from one Chopin's work and its themes from another's (Kate's The Awakening), Waltz No. 6 manages to be frank and disturbing. In Nelson Rodrigues' haunting 50-year-old play, Cristina Ubinha stars as 15-year-old Sonia, who attempts to reconcile her burgeoning sexuality with the restrictions of her faith. Here the confusion of youth is elevated to the stuff of gothic mystery. She must discover who she is, quite literally -- and whether she's even still alive. Find out at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday (with an extra chance at 6 p.m. on Saturday) or 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Sunday at the Levitt Building, 1808 Oak. -- Scherstuhl