Review: Tiny Ninja Theater
TheaterMania, 4/9/03
"There's something irresistibly charming about seeing Shakespeare's works performed by miniature plastic figurines."

Article: Small Actors Make Big Splash
Dramatics, 4/03
"As Yoda says, ‘You do or you do not; there is no try.’"

Review: Theatre Pick for Week of March 4, 3/4/03
"You think you've seen every twist on The Bard’s work humanly possible..."

Article: Fringe Hit Tiny Ninja Theater Returns to NYC
Playbill Online, 2/9/03
"Trevor Bigfoot as Mercutio — whose death scene has to be seen to be believed"

Article: Best of Charleston 2003
The Charleston City Paper, 1/03
"Readers Pick for Best Piccolo Spoleto Event"

Review: Shakespeare in a Shoebox
The Washington Post, 1/11/03
"Once you've seen its Romeo & Juliet, you'll want to come to back for figurine versions of Hamlet or Othello or whatever else." — Peter Marks

Review: Action Figure Genius
The Charleston City Paper, 10/02
"Quick, clever, and chock full of surprises, more than one audience member claimed that it even outperformed the hit interpretation of the Scottish play." — Colleen Reilly

Review: Freeze Frame
Creative Loafing Charlotte, 10/2/02
"I heartily recommend being among the lucky few when Weinstein & Co. return to Charlotte or Piccolo Spoleto." — Perry Tannenbaum
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Review: Tiny Version of Macbeth is Giant Entertainment
The Charlotte Observer, 9/22/02
"Fresh, funny, ingenious and original." — JoAnn Grose

Review: Tiny Ninja Theater
Hairline, 8/02
"Four Stars: Tiny Ninja Theater is a fantastic and unorthodox show which represents what many love about the Edinburgh Festival." — Simon Ferguson

Review: Bard Takes a Flyer
Sunday Herald, 8/25/02
"Four Stars: Shakespeare is as equally at home among the ridiculous, of course." — Tim Abrahams

Review: Tiny Ninja Theater presents Macbeth
The Scotsman, 8/19/02
"Must be seen to be believed. " — Paul Rhodes

Review: Macbeth
Three Weeks, 8/17/02
"If a definition of the Fringe is originality and artistic expression, then this 35 minute abbreviated version of Macbeth, with tiny plastic ninjas as a cast, must surely rank as an ultimate example." — Paul Cochrane

Review: Mr. Smiley Face Macbeth
The Guardian, 8/10/02
"Weinstein plays it dead straight and speaks the text rather better than some classically trained actors I have heard." — Lyn Gardner

Review: Mini-Cawdor Steals Hearts
The List, 8/8/02
"a marvel of theatrical innovation" — Catherine Bromley

Review: No Drams Required
Edinburgh Guide, 8/3/02
"This is the only one I’m recommending to all my friends and the only thing I think I’ll make a return trip to!" — Annabel Ingram

Article: Ninja-cized Bard
Charleston Post & Courier, 6/1/02

Article: Tiny Ninja Theater Returns to Charleston
The State, 5/31/02

Review: Action Figure Genius
The Charleston City Paper, 5/29/02

Review: Tiny Ninjas Take On Shakespeare's Giant Roles
Charleston Post & Courier, 5/29/02

Article: Oh Tiny Romeo
The Charleston City Paper, 5/02

Article: What's The Buzz
The Charleston City Paper, 5/02
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Article: Where to Celebrate Valentine's Day Solo
Time Out New York, 2/14/02
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Review: Massaker im Spielzeugland
Taz Bremen, 1/22/02
the babelfish translation

Article: Best of Charleston 2001
The Charleston City Paper, 1/02
"Best Use of Plastic Figurines in a Performance" jump to the good bits

Article: Shakespeare de Plástico
Revista 2K, 6/22/01
the babelfish translation

Piccolo's Prices Too Steep for Local Festival
The State, 6/10/01
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Spoleto Festival at 25
The New York Times, 6/5/01
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Tiny Ninjas Put Twist on the Bard
Charleston Post & Courier, 6/2/01

Tiny Ninjas Project Big Illusion
The Charleston City Paper, 5/29/01

Review: No Small Jokes, Just Small Actors
Charleston Post & Courier, 5/29/01

Article: Immediate Art
The Charleston City Paper, 5/01
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Article: Serious Shakespeare Takes But An Inch
The Charleston City Paper, 5/01

Review: Sightlines: Tom Waits in the Toilet
The Village Voice, 4/27/01

Article: All Is But Toys
Stage Directions, 3/01
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Article: The Bard's New Band of Merry Men Perform Macbeth
American Theater, 12/00

Article: Off-Off color: Toy Story
Time Out New York, 11/9/00
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Review: Street of Blood, Tiny Ninja Theater presents Macbeth
NEXT Magazine, 9/15/00
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Article: Is That a Ninja That I See Before Me?
Playbill Online, 8/30/00

Review: Oh, Forget the Money, Let's Dress Up and Play
The New York Times, 8/26/00
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Fringe Binge
Time Out New York, 8/24/00
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Review: Fringe Benefits
The Village Voice, 8/23/00
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Review: As The Bard Himself Might Put it..., 8/20/00

Review: Tiny Ninja Macbeth, Finally, Little Green Man, 8/18/00
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Article: Off-Off and Running
Time Out New York, 8/10/00
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Tiny Ninjas Project Big Illusion
By C. Reilly

Dov Weinstein’s Tiny Ninja Theatre is Shakespeare as you have never seen it. Condensing Macbeth into 35 minutes of sheer imaginative power, Weinstein stages the Scottish play with a central cast of 28 players. This is no small feat for a stage the size of a briefcase. But then, great things come in small packages.

Who would think that ninjas employed such a range of talent? Comprising a majority of the cast, these players made up for their lack of stature with their inspired performances. While a little stiff at times, they delivered colorful interpretations of Shakespeare’s story of murder and betrayal.

Featured in the cast are Mr. and Mrs. Smile as Lord and Lady Macbeth. Their optimism remains frozen on their faces throughout the play in a haunting mask of determination. Lady Macbeth delivers a particularly chilling performance with her inhuman capacity for violence. At times, her very eyes gleam black and small, especially during the famous sleepwalking scene.

Mr. Smile is a more reluctant party to his misdeeds as Macbeth, but at times he seems to glow with a malevolent energy. These two performances are not to be missed, nor is the appearance of the three sisters, who take on a persona that can only be described as otherworldly.

Director Weinstein applies a dexterous blocking to the staging. His presence seems ever constant onstage, and even the voices of the players, with their flawless delivery of Shakespeare’s verse, seem reminiscent of Weinstein’s own. It is always difficult as a director to relinquish the stage to its performance, but his continuous proximity to the production seems to inspire rather than inhibit his actors. He even makes an appearance as the Porter.

As strange as it sounds, Tiny Ninja Theatre is just what it claims to be. This particular performance stages Macbeth using gumball machine action figures as magnetized puppets. The production faithfully follows Shakespeare’s text, albeit generously cut. Binoculars are distributed, making the ninjas appear life-size, but you may consider bringing your own. And you might also bear in mind that as close as your vision may become, these action figures do not actually change expression. They only seem to. Weinstein’s illusion is so complete it can be a difficult point to remember.

Although Weinstein is the sole puppeteer, he infuses his characters with so much internal life it is difficult to consider this a solo performance. Raising provocative questions about the human element of performance in a play that closely deals with the supernatural forces that puppet our destiny, Weinstein shows his exceptional talent. Not only does the text find new life channeled across the minute space, (think Macbeth’s “All is but toys”), but there is also an unprecedented range of new visual discovery. And Weinstein accomplishes all of this using objects of such simple design and effect that, having seen the performance, you wonder if these all-too-familiar objects, like pen lights and plastic figures, were ever destined for mundane use. After all, as Weinstein shows us, they want to dance.

Because of the scale of the production there is limited seating for each performance. Buy your tickets in advance, and due to the sell out shows, look for possible added performances June 4-June 8. From the New York International Fringe Festival to our own Piccolo Fringe at Theatre 99, this performance may push you to the outer limits. The remainder of the festival will look tiny in comparison.

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