The physical theater production of “Leo,” directed by Daniel Briere, conceived and performed by Tobias Wegner, is basically a gag carried out, step-by-step, to its logical and glorious conclusion. At the risk of sounding far too sappy for comfort, Leo is a joy to behold.
The performance opens onto a simple set consisting of a large red and blue box — large enough to hold a frolicking adult male (Wegner) — but devoid of anything else except said male, a bare lightbulb, and a valise. Adjacent to the overly large box is a screen that depicts the innards of the box exactly with one small exception — the screen turns the box on its side.
What happens over the next 70 minutes are the physical manipulations of Wegner in the right-side-up box and the projection of his manipulations on the sideways screen. For example, when Wegner is seated on top of the valise, stationed on the floor, it looks as if he is hanging off the right wall on the screen.
It’s a simple concept — the art is in the physicality of Wegner and his movements. The entertainment quotient comes from the fact that despite the audience’s ability to see that at no time does Wegner actually hang from the ceiling or walk on the walls — though he does do some mean hand and head-stands — we watch his movements on the screen and guffaw at the illusionless illusion he creates.
Though the bit slows down some during the second half of the show — Wegner lulls us into an unusually relaxed state with his saxophone (the valise is there for a purpose) — it picks right back up again when animation is added to the screen. Our only other complaint is that, despite our perfectly fine seats, we were unable to get a good view of the inside of the box where Wegner frolicked — and we were sure others saw less than us.
Overall though, Jasper gives Leo a strong 4 out of 5 stars. There are three more opportunities to see the performance — Sunday at 8 pm, Monday at noon, and Tuesday at 7 pm.