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In My Corner 

When: May 22-23, 7:30 p.m., June 25-27, 8 p.m. and Sun., June 28, 7 p.m. 2009
Price: $30

A sparsely furnished stage, with a jazz trio in one corner and punching bag in the other, gives some clue as to how Joe Orrach's autobiographical one-man show will take shape. Low on production values and high on ingenuity, it's a fast-paced romp through Orrach's fascinating childhood growing up in a family of Puerto Rican boxers. Orrach's strict, unyielding father taught his sons how to fight, and got enraged when Joe applied his boxing skills to ballet classes. Despite their harried relationship, In My Corneris ultimately a son's homage to the man who helped generate his artistic impulses -- however unwittingly. Seventy minutes long, the show elides narrative in favor of symbolism: A jump rope becomes a whip used for corporal punishment; a roll of toilet paper unfurls to form a sidewalk, and later, the rope on a boxing ring. Orrach is an electrifying performer, especially when he applies music and dance to the storyline -- whether punching a bag in waltz rhythm, reenacting a twist contest, or salsa-ing across the stage with his boxing stand as a dance partner. Musical director Matt Clark helps undergird the narrative with rock, Latin jazz, and improvised music, while percussionist MichaNoorPatri and bassist Eugene Warren add texture. Through June 28 at Oakland's Black Box Theatre (531 19th St.). $18-$28. JoeOrrach.com


— Rachel Swan

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