Stuffed and Unstrung Entertains at the Curran Now thru August 27th

By: Aug. 20, 2011
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If you grew up loving Jim Henson's muppets, but reluctantly left them behind as you got older, then you're in for a treat. There's a saucy, new, hilarious and completely adult alternative - a Henson Alternative - for you to enjoy. Created by son and CEO Brian Henson, Stuffed and Unstrung combines the magic of muppetry with the instant insanity of improv, all to great, R-rated effect. Playing at San Francisco's Curran Theater, now through August 27th, Stuffed and Unstrung is a muppets gone wild, great night out on the town!

Hilarious, human host Patrick Bristow (and co-creator) takes the stage in front of a plethora of puppets, 80 to be exact, all seemingly waiting to be chosen by their muppet masters for a night of fun.

The advanced improv training that the puppeteers were put through for this show came in handy when the jumbo screens on either of side of the stage malfunctioned. Puppeteers began to improvise a little more than they had expected to - much to the delight of the audience. The crisis was immediately resolved and Bristow introduced the human cast and let us know that he would be taking suggestions from the audience for the skits.

Audience participation is a big part of the show and the San Francisco crowd did not disappoint. Where else but in San Francisco could you randomly find a participant who is a sex researcher by trade? I'll leave the rest to your imagination.

Politics came into play when Bristow called out for a title and a villain for the James Bond-type skit the audience demanded "Octo-wussy," and "Michelle Bachmann." The crowd erupted in cheers for this one! Although the beauty of improv lies in its spontaneity, Bristow does such a good job leading the audience into ribald and politically incorrect areas that opening night's political incorrectness recurs quite often and to great effect.

In addition to the improv skits, the show was interspersed with some classic Jim Henson skits which served to frame and anchor the show and remind us how cutting edge he was and what a legacy he left. That legacy was readily apparent in the work of his son, Brian Henson. He did a skit using a remarkable digital rig which allowed him to control and animate a "head" that appeared on the screens, demonstrating why his family's "Creature Shop" is one of the most advanced creators of film creatures in the world.

Stuffed and Unstrung is unplugged, unhinged and deliciously bawdy as well. But these muppets will soon be on the move so catch them while they're making whoopee at the Curran Theater now through August 27th.

Stuffed and Unstrung
Created by Brian Henson and Patrick Bristow
One hour, 40 minutes
Now thru Aug.27.
San Francisco's Curran Theatre:
Photo courtesy of Carol Rosegg



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