If not for exactly one "fuck" and some mild sexual reminiscing during the back half of the show, Alyza DelPan-Monely's That's A HANDFUL would be nearly indistinguishable from a particularly excellent live-action episode of Blue's Clues, or whichever quasi-educational children's program you watched after school.
In the show, which runs through Saturday at 12th Ave Arts, DelPan-Monely dons a kooky neon outfit and hops through an hour of charming sketches about hands, weaving in little factoids about our mitts throughout. Did you know, for instance, that the Babylonians invented the 60-minute clock based on our fingers and toes, which have three segments per digit? Now you do. Have a nice day.
Roughly speaking, the first half of the show features bits that summer camp counselors might use to keep a restless group of campers occupied as they wait for snacks to arrive; a story told entirely with puns on the word "hand," a game of charades, a dramatic round of roshambo, some dialogue with a hand puppet. The second half takes a more artful turn, with some improv dancing to a supercut of instructional YouTube videos featuring hands, and a lyric essay that riffs on all of the things we do with our hands, tip-toeing, if you will, around the the unspeakably violent acts we're capable of making them commit.
I was kinda hoping that all the noodling about hands would take a deeply strange turn, or a heartbreaking turn, or a sad turn, but DelPan-Monely remains faithful to the chaotic collage structure throughout as they make a broad tonal shift from humorously pleasant to casually contemplative. The associative logic driving the piece presents the audience with many shiny theatrical objects to maintain interest, never lingering too long on a thought or a bit —with the exception, perhaps of the punning. (I'm on record with my love for puns, but the amount of idle punning in this show stretched my limit.)
In any event, the point isn't to weigh you down with some Deep Thoughts about hands, but rather to create an hour in the day for whimsy, an hour in the day where you can enjoy the thrill of hopping down an internet rabbit hole with other people—if you're into that sort of thing. I left the black box theater that night feeling exactly as I do after I complete an ice-breaker at some work event: some initial wincing and reluctance that yielded to a nice feeling of togetherness that concluded with a general feeling of calm acceptance. Not a bad way to kick off an evening.