By Jay Menard
Bella Culpa — at least according to the Googles — translates as “Beautiful Fault,” and the latest Fringe production by Portland, OR-based A Little Bit Off is a rollicking comedy of “errors” that showcase two masters of modern slapstick.
David Cantor and Amica Hunter play a pair of servants in an Edwardian manor. They wait for the call and command of their off-stage mistress (who delivers her orders in a most Charlie-Brown-parent sort of way.) It is in the execution of these orders — and during the times in between — that hilarity ensues.
The show is a delight for the children in the audience. One young girl in the front row was thoroughly engaged and laughed uproariously throughout. To their credit, Cantor and Hunter acknowledged and incorporated her youthful enthusiasm throughout the production. But it’s by no means a childish show and the adults in the crowd clearly appreciate the humour and technical and physical expertise.
The duo have thrilled audiences in the past with their Beau and Aero show and they describe their work as theatrical circus entertainment. Bella Culpa is a throwback show that appeals to a modern audience. Their body control is unbelievable and their creativity is through the roof. Throughout the production they take mundane items like buckets, brooms, and even costumes and repurpose them to create incredible visuals and experiences.
Even a sponge becomes anthropomorphized — and, shockingly, becomes a valued part of the cast.
There are some incredible moments of audience participation throughout. And though some participants were more willing than others (including a certain Morrissey House employee who may have a new theatre career to consider), they were able to keep the flow of the show going and add layers to the humour throughout.
Bella Culpa is wildly entertaining and truly a family friendly show. It blends silliness, athleticism, and classic vaudevillian styling into a modern presentation that’s a joy to watch.
**** – Four out of five stars
This review was originally published on theatreinlondon.ca.