Fruit Flies Like a Banana (Critic's Pick)

Remember that one time in band camp? Well, Hilary Abigana (flutes and accordion), C. Neil Parsons (bass trombone and euphonium) and Greg Jukes (percussion and toy piano) were surely the most innovative at their respective band camps.

click to enlarge 'Fruit Flies Like a Banana'
'Fruit Flies Like a Banana'

Gabriel’s Corner (located at Sycamore at Liberty Street in Over-the-Rhine) has been host to some Cincy Fringe-tastic physical theater, including David Gaines’ 7(x1) Samurai, a solo master class in movement and story. The Fourth Wall’s Fruit Flies Like a Banana presents the ensemble version of a family-fun master class in the hybrid arts.

Remember that one time in band camp? Well, Hilary Abigana (flutes and accordion), C. Neil Parsons (bass trombone and euphonium) and Greg Jukes (percussion and toy piano) were surely the most innovative at their respective band camps. They are all classically trained musicians who also happen to be dancers, actors and music educators.

At the top of the show, they hit the time clock, and over the next 60 minutes they perform 22 musical vignettes. The audience dictates the order of the show by pulling the next-up segment from a deck of Fruit Flies cards. The musical innovations that follow are equal-parts mind-boggling and delightful.

“Boomwhacker” kicked off the opening performance. Abigana, Parsons and Jukes ran behind the curtain to grab armfuls of plastic piping. They quickly organized the various lengths between them and whacked/played Mozart’s "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" with only plastic tubing. A few minutes later, Abigana was jumping rope while playing piccolo.

The orchestral gymnastics continue throughout, and whether set to a Fourth Wall arrangement of Bach, Tchaikovsky, Ellington or Billy Joel, the trio is funny and engaging while remaining masterful in both movement and musicianship. There is plenty of audience engagement, but not the kind that is likely to make anyone uncomfortable. It’s like being in the most fun music class in the history of the world.

Don’t just take it from me. Eleven-year old Arish, who plays both piano and violin, sat a few rows in front of me. He was mesmerized for the entire 60 minutes. After, he noted that Fruit Flies Like a Banana is “really good!” and suggested that other kids should see it too.  Whether you bring the family or not, you are in for a treat with these “high art shenanigans.”

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