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The Bright River: A Mass Transit Tour of the Afterlife 

When: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. and Sundays, 7 p.m. Continues through Feb. 20 2010
Price: $17-$35

Having spent past lives as a fire juggler, theologian, Chassidic folklorist, storyteller, and flautist, Tim Barsky managed to lump all his skills into a form he calls "urban circus arts." It's an apt description for his new show, The Bright River, which transforms an old allegory from Dante into a hip, lively anti-war screed. An actor-less production, BrightRiverprivileges sound over form. Its current iteration features beatboxer Carlos Aguirre (aka Infinite), jazz drummer Kevin Carnes, and celloist Alex Kelly, with Barsky playing a slew of woodwinds (he's a renowned practitioner of "flute beatboxing") and delivering his travelogue in spoken word cadence. The musicians not only create atmosphere, but also animate the story: At one point, Aguirre acts out an entire "conference of birds" using his body as an instrument. "Transit" is not so much a theme as an aural effect, conveyed through the use of scrap metal percussion and electronics. It accords with a brittle, industrial landscape designed by MelpomeneKatakalos, and with Barsky's idea of using busses as a metaphor for purgatory. For those who caught the group's December performance at Climate Theater, this new stage production is more dynamic and dramatic -- aerial instead of mono. Directed by Jessica Heidt.Through February 20 at BravaTheaterCenter (2781 24th St., San Francisco). $17-$35. Brava.org

— Rachel Swan

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