Brachetti bites

ARTURO BRACHETTI directed by Serge Denoncourt. Presented by Mirvish Productions and Just for Laughs at the Canon Theatre.


ARTURO BRACHETTI directed by Serge Denoncourt. Presented by Mirvish Productions and Just for Laughs at the Canon Theatre (244 Victoria). Runs to October 20, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Wednesday, Saturday-Sunday 2 pm. $31-$71. 416-872-1212. Rating: NN Rating: NNNNN

italian quick-change artist arturo Brachetti’s show is a technical marvel, a piece that succeeds as spectacle. If you’re looking for any depth of involvement — either on Brachetti’s part or that of the audience — it’s a dud.A blend of Cirque du Soleil theatrics and a high-grade sleight-of-hand act, Brachetti’s solo show is the kind of work that has him transform from Mountie to bee to flower in 30 seconds. He also single-handedly mounts a black-and-white western sketch, offers a tribute to his inspiration, performer Leopoldo Fregoli, and a four-seasons number that draws on the work of four well-known painters. In between, biographical material and sappy “home movies” purport to tell us something about the man, but reveal nothing.

The second half is a movie tribute, with Brachetti beginning as the Columbia statue and morphing quickly into a string of Hollywood figures, including Chaplin, Heston, Andrews, Garland, Minnelli and King Kong. He finishes with a Fellini tribute, which requires that viewers have a good knowledge of the Italian filmmaker’s work.

Despite his big smile, the show is a cold piece of special effects done by rote, all style and no content. It’s a flashier version of vaudeville acts that appeared on Ed Sullivan in the 50s. There’s a single delightful surprise, though — a series of shadow puppets, done simply and without glitz. It’s the one moment of real charm in the whole show.

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