Fringeworthy

Hip Shot: The Adventures of Tapman

tapmanLab II — Atlas Performing Arts Center

Remaining Performances:
Wednesday, July 23, at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, July 25, at 6:15 p.m.
Saturday, July 26, at 4:00 p.m.
Sunday, July 27, at 4:30 p.m.

They say: A lovelorn scientist consumes a secret formula to transform into his crime-fighting alter ego, Tapman, the world's most daring tap dance superhero!

Camila's take: He's a scientist, the kind who does… uh, science! He gets super-powered dance skills from… a giant syringe! He uses his fancy footwork to fight crime, which makes sense, because, um… whoa, look at him go!

Hey, it's exactly the kind of plausibility you'll find in your average super-powered crimefighter's origin story. Besides, in this kid-friendly tap-dancing extravaganza, the story is emphatically not the point.

The supervillains just present a theme to riff on, and the dialogue's only there to throw in a few laughs. The show is episodic, with blackouts separating vast leaps through time, space and storyline;  when audio issues drowned out some of the voiceover, nobody on opening night seemed to mind. Towards the end, even Tapman gives up on the feeble pretense of narrative altogether, and he just dances.

And that's all the audience wants, really. I was a tap-dancing dropout at the age of five, so I won't pretend to have an eye for the finer details of fancy footwork, but Tristan Bruns puts on a good show. On top of his entertaining, often comic tap-dancing, the hour-long show features singing, modern dance (from Kate O'Hanlon), some silent-film-style video, and, on account of one of the show's main characters being invisible, a fair bit of miming.

It's a pity that Tapman only had invisible villains to battle against. The tap de deux between Bruns and O'Hanlan was among the show's highlights, and made the absence of a real dance-fight all too noticeable. If only the Mad Tapper had been present, or the Invisible Tapman had suddenly gone through his "pigmentation cycle" and joined the stage!

Oh, well. Mourning the small size of a cast is probably some sort of cardinal sin of Fringe reviewing, right up there with lamenting the lack of a fully built-out set or supertitles; no doubt I'll have my keyboard confiscated before the morning. [My office, Domonoske. NOW. Bring your badge. And your keyboard. — Ed.]

See it if: Your kids tap dance. They might roll their eyes at some of the jokes, but they'll get a kick  out of the sand dance. And if you tap dance, bring a date you're dying to impress — and practice your shim-sham the night before. (Note to non-dancers: that is not a euphemism.)

Skip it if: You were hoping for a fully fleshed-out superhero saga, like Dr. Horrible with taps, or you can't stand campy comedy, or hate the sound of tappa-tappa-tappa.

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