'Taking Over'

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Aimed at audiences for whom Brooklyn is more than an eccentric place across the bridge from Manhattan, Danny Hoch indicts the town's gentrification (in particular, the Williamsburg neighborhood) in a one-man play stitched together from a series of brilliant, expletive-laced character sketches.

His take-no-prisoners style in "Taking Over" is precise, furious and rich with insight, history and a ton of laughs. It's also leavened with gentle bewilderment about what it means beyond the obvious: that it's all too funny and all too true, and that none of the dispossessed — with their simultaneously conflicting and overlapping notions of community — knows what to do about it.

An older black woman sitting on the stoop casually unleashes a string of wise and wiseass observations. "Those French people," she concludes, "they can quiche my ass."

A Dominican taxi dispatcher, switching brilliantly from subtitled Spanish to English, promiscuously rains insults on "Ecuadorian faggots" and all the other Latin and South American "hick farmer drivers" he dispatches. It's a virtuoso tour de force.

Hoch's chaotic universe seems bounded only by the show's 90-minute length. Although few of his characters have anything beyond a generic personal background, each is cleverly thought out and, underneath the comedy, achingly heartfelt, and each spotlights particular cultural truisms and biases.

Hoch and director Tony Taccone enhance their dynamic, simply orchestrated presentation by opening up the stage with smoke-and-mirrors lighting effects and effective backdrop shuffling. Meanwhile, Hoch paces the action with a dancer's sense of rhythm and movement, so his portraits are far more than collections of punchlines and accents.

Beyond the script and the production's physical energy, Hoch totally controls the audience with his presence and voice. Not even the relentless bouts of laughter and applause can cover his delivery. (partialdiff)
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