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Aurélia's Oratorio 

When: Dec. 4-Jan. 24 2010
Price: $13.50 - $71

Considering her pedigree, it would have been sacrilegious for AuréliaThiérrée to grow up and be anything besides a clown. The granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin and great-granddaughter of playwright Eugene O'Neill, she grew up performing in circuses and learning the art of nouveau cirque, a Vaudevillian form that her parents helped generate and later imparted to the ever-popular troupe Cirque du Soleil. Aurélia's mother Victoria Chaplin Thiérée conceived and directed her current show, Aurélia's Oratorio, which features aerial tricks, body contortion and some phenomenal dance performances, many of them given a bizarre context. (The best happens when Aurélia and co-star Jaime Martinez squabble over a coat, then do an elaborate tango in which the garment keeps changing hands). Void of narrative and dialogue, the show nonetheless has incredible rhythmic command. The skits work in sequence, starting with Aurélia's now-famous trick of emerging, one limb at a time, from a chest of drawers. It continues apace with enough sensual choreography to balance out the gags. The last optical illusion, involving a train and a tunnel, is riveting. Through January 24 at Berkeley Repertory Theatre (2015 Addison St.). $16.50-$71.

— Rachel Swan


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