Armed with a Charlie Chaplinesque persona, acrobatic acumen, a snare drum, fruit, a rickety ladder and an uncanny knack for inspiring giggling fits in small children, Jamie Adkins performs a one-man circus that needs no big top. At the outset, simple props perch unobtrusively on a mostly bare stage, an artistic choice that evokes the endless possibilities of an empty palette. Adkins, who has performed with Cirque du Soleil and Montreal's Cirque Eloize, eases into the filling of said palette, launching the show with a bumbling battle between man, chair, cardboard box and slip of paper. The concepts behind his gags are simple (retrieve the slip of paper from inside the cardboard box); the execution, anything but. (Dive head-first into the box from a chair that continually tips over.) Whether juggling, walking a dubiously flimsy tightrope, teaching a bowler hat a few dance moves or chasing a flashlight beam, Adkins always plays the stupid adult, to the delight of young audience members. The directorial shouts from the audience of 6- to 10-year-olds are half the fun here ("If you don't hold on, you're going to fall!"). Meanwhile, adults can marvel at Adkins' honed clowning techniques and impressive physical fluidity. By the time Adkins clamps a fork between his teeth for the purpose of catching oranges hurled at his face by audience members, he has already demonstrated the squeal-inducing joy of skilled silliness. Kirk Douglas Theatre, 9820 Washington Blvd., Culver City; Sat., 11 a.m. & 3 p.m., Sun., 3 p.m., through Jan. 23. (213) 628-2772.
Saturdays, 11 a.m. & 3 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: Jan. 15. Continues through Jan. 23, 2011