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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'Romeo': Shakespeare In a Shoe Box
By Peter Marks
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 11, 2003

Art thou not Romeo, and a . . . little plastic toy?

Yes, the star-crossed lovers of Shakespeare's romantic tragedy are reborn as pinkie-size action figures, thanks to director Dov Weinstein and his "Tiny Ninja Theater Presents Romeo & Juliet." Perched on tables and an ironing board set up about five feet from the audience at the Warehouse Theatre, the figurines are manipulated by Weinstein in an abridged but verbatim version of the play.

It's all here: The Capulet ball (which literally unfolds in a shoe box), Friar Laurence's cell (a metal first-aid kit), the streets of Verona (an all-white cardboard backdrop, very 1970s), even the balcony scene. Weinstein helpfully attaches a piece of wire to bulbous-headed Romeo's super-blond coif so that he really can scale Juliet's orchard walls and declare his love.

What can you say? It's cute. Remember being 8 years old, your soldiers or Matchbox cars or assorted dolls spread out before you, and you gave them all voices? What power you wielded over the universe on your bedroom floor! This in essence is Weinstein's act, except his voices are probably much more eloquent than anything your or my little brain could have come up with.

The director, who is based in New York, developed his idea for toy classical theater in 1999, after discovering the miniature plastic likenesses of ninjas in vending machines. (He augmented the company with other types of figures.) His inaugural production, "Tiny Ninja Theater Presents Macbeth," was a hit the following year at the New York International Fringe Festival, and the rest is very silly history. The company's motto? But of course: "No small parts, only small actors."

Dressed solemnly in puppeteer's white, Weinstein does anything but fade into the background. In a funny bit, he arrives onstage bearing a pair of identical white boxes, and begins: "Two households, both alike in dignity." Over the course of about 45 minutes, at a pace that seems neither too rushed nor too leisurely, he smoothly recites the pared-down text. The Romeo and Juliet dolls are a matched set of wide-eyed children; the Nurse is a smiley-face doll with a headdress and long train, a parody of the character in Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 movie version; the firebrand Tybalt is a Bruce Lee action figure and the Apothecary, who supplies Romeo with his fateful dram of poison, is a skeleton. (Ninjas play many of the other roles.)

Though there are mock-serious touches -- theatergoers are handed dime-store opera glasses as they enter -- Tiny Ninja Theater is not a mocking enterprise. The opportunities to snicker are few. The fun is all in the props Weinstein comes up with, and the ways in which he stage-manages his flea circus of a spectacle. The balcony scene is actually quite sweet; Weinstein makes them a gentle and ardent couple. And the final sequence, in Capulet's tomb (a converted guitar case) is the smartest in the production. Still, the crowd scenes are not as artfully embroidered as one might have expected. The climactic deaths of Mercutio and Tybalt are low rather than high points; somehow, Weinstein missed the chance to come up with an inspired way of killing them off.

But that's okay. Tiny Ninja Theater, running through tomorrow as part of the inaugural Warehouse Comedy Festival, strives for a more mellow kind of coolness. Once you've seen its "Romeo & Juliet," you'll want to come to back for figurine versions of "Hamlet" or "Othello" or whatever else. In other words, collect the whole set.

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