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.