Yes Sweet Can - A Delightful Ride

If you have neither the time nor the funds to see Cirque de Soleil this year, a delightfully satisfying experience at a much more reasonable rate is Yes Sweet Can, a production of Sweet Can Productions now playing at Dance Mission Theater in San Francisco. Directed by Wendy Parkman, who performed with the Pickle Family Circus, and Joanna Haigood, Artistic Director of Zaccho Dance Theatre, the one hour performance incorporates dance, theatre, live music, acrobatics and circus performances along the lines of Cirque de Soleil’s elaborate extravaganzas on a smaller scale and in a far more intimate, and viewable, setting.

The evening begins with a spare set that includes a white oblong coffee table, a red square stool at one end and a yellow round one at the other. A newspaper sits on each end of the table, while two additional stools of varying heights stand behind. A music section of keyboards and a synthesizer is upstage left behind a row of silver trash cans and hula hoops. The music is composed and performed by EO, who soon appears and begins playing a trumpet, with the synthesized sound of a rhythm section piping in under his trumpet tones.

Lights dim. Rain is heard, then thunder and a storm. Lights come up on four dancers peering through a window at the storm. One of the dancers sits on the yellow stool, grabs the newspaper and fashions a paper airplane, which she sets aloft. The others join and play around the table. A radio weather report is heard through the storm The window is hoisted up, and the storm is gone. Suddenly, a circus appears, with cartwheels and somersaults abounding, the table becoming a hurdle for roundoffs and other acrobatic stunts. Newspapers are abundant, flying everywhere, until some unfurl at one point, and the sign “Yes Sweet Can” is hung.

It being the real world, the performers begin sweeping away the newspapers littered on the floor after this ingenious introduction. We hear the distant sound of Frank Sinatra crooning Fly Me to the Moon as Matt White, the male performer, uses the broom as a microphone. The music grows clear and loud while Matt uses the broom as a twirling baton and Natasha Kaluza and EO replace Ol’ Blue Eyes’ tones with their own voices.

These are but openers to an evening that includes spellbinding performances by Beth Clarke, who walks, lounges on and dances the tightrope, Kerri Kresinski, who astounds in a breathtaking aireal dance, Natasha Kaluza, a super duper hula hooper, and Matt White, the balancing man. They are also but a few of the many remarkable feats performed over a one hour sojourn from the storm, which include tap dance, balancing acts, audience interaction and musical chairs. It’s eye popping and delightful for young and old alike.

Yes Sweet Can plays through January 3, 2010, at Dance Mission Theater, 3316 - 24th Street, San Francisco. Performance times vary. For information and tickets ($20), call 415-273-4633 or visit online at www.sweetcanproductions.com.

- Eryka M. Fraczek
Member, SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle