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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The Scotsman
Reviewed: Bard takes a flyer

A Room Of State Smirnoff Underbelly, ends today, Fringe Brochure p146 ***
The Al-Hamlet Summit -- Zaoum Theatre Pleasance Dome, until August 26, Fringe Brochure p108 *****
Tiny Ninja Theater Presents Macbeth Gateway, Ends Today, Fringe Brochure p155 ****
Macbeth Royal Lyceum, Run Ended **
Fringe/ Festival Theatre
Tim Abrahams

Several years ago, I remember snorting in derision at a flyer. I can't remember the name of the show but essentially the play it advertised was Hamlet without Hamlet in it. I imagined a piece of theatre where the other characters in Hamlet sat around debating what to do and popped it in the nearest bin. I never went and saw the play. Given that I haven't heard of it since, I feel slightly vindicated. I wonder though ... How would I have reacted to a play described as two of the lesser-known characters from Hamlet sitting around in an existential parallel world, discussing philosophy? Would I have scorned the young Stoppard as he tried to hand me a flyer for Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead in 1966 and gone in search of a fine Oxbridge revue ?

Since Stoppard, one of the purposes of the Fringe has been encouraging young groups to give Shakespeare a doing. The Prodigal Theatre Company have broken Hamlet down and put it back together again but with a much less ambitious goal. A Room Of State is simply the Danish play performed by five people. You get the distinct impression that the show is simply the company's favourite bits because there is no obvious logic to the excisions.

Although it is well staged and the actors have ample talent, it is far too languorously delivered. They could have fitted in far more of the play if they just hurried up a bit.

That production seems even more trivial when compared with the urgent, vital adaptation by Zaoum Theatre called The Al-Hamlet Summit. Here the writer Sulayman Al-Bassam has not merely altered the plot but rewritten the entire play in his own words, and he has the most urgent and vital of reasons. Set in a unspecified modern Arab state, Al-Hamlet is a superbly constructed dramatisation of a society's descent into fundamentalism and chaos. To have created such an impressive piece of writing himself, Sulayman has clearly mastered Hamlet and its politics, sexual and otherwise. Ingeniously staged and almost impeccably acted, its elegiac finale pushes it into the realm of the sublime.

Shakespeare is as equally at home among the ridiculous, of course. Dov Weinstein's army of inch-high plastic ninja figures (plus the two-inch Mr Smile dolls who get the lead roles of Macbeth and his lady) may seem like a preposterous conduit for Shakespeare at first. But after watching Tiny Ninja Theater Presents Macbeth for about 15 minutes, a strange thing happens. Even though you are seeing a bunch of toys through plastic opera glasses and listening to puppet-master Weinstein do his full range of daft voices, this dramatic world begins to win you over. Proof that the human mind will engage with a good story, well told, even if the guy who is telling it is called Dov and he is waving wee ninjas around.

It is certainly better that than the full arsenal of a coldly functional Dutch theatre company. At the International Festival, Macbeth has taken a healthy amount of pummelling and stretching. It takes everything that Ro Theatre's armoury of post-structuralist nonsense and comes off bloody but ultimately unbowed. Rotterdam's Ro treat the Lyceum as if it were a studio space; the stage a cubed laboratory where they can submit a playwright who thrives on actors projecting his characters to cruel theatrical experiments. Stripping away the levity of certain scenes and shocking the audience with coarsely untheatrical moments may bring out subtle new nuances in unexpected areas, but it gives no impression of a full reading. It's an interesting intellectual exercise to see Shakespeare performed as modernist family drama, but there is none of the visceral horror in the most brutal of his later tragedies. Certainly we should be messing with Shakespeare, but there should always be an end in sight.

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