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Curtains: Childsplay's Rock Paper Scissors in Mini-Revival

By the end of the summer, a lot of parents will probably be thinking, "The last thing my kid needs is more creativity and self-esteem." But you know that's just the vacation desperation kicking in; really, we all need to be dragged away from our glowing screens, and Childsplay's little summer revival of last season's Rock Paper Scissors is a good break.

The play is marketed as suitable for anybody 5 or older, and the whole slew of kids and grownups in the theater seemed to agree. A wordless story with a way cool musical score by Bruno Louchouarn, Rock Paper Scissors has just two characters: Ollie (Jon Gentry), who works at home in what seems to be an extremely boring job, and Yuki (David Dickinson), a young man who pops into Ollie's life one day.

In a little less than an hour, the pair build a relationship that leaves high-tech distractions behind and explores a whole universe of imaginative fun. Paper, a substance that at first seemed to define and circumscribe Ollie's drab existence, becomes the inspiration and raw material for weaponry, art, architecture, communication, and an entire dress-up, make-believe adventure.

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And yes, rocks and scissors also make an appearance, as well as a few rounds of good old-fashioned rochambeau -- including a viral outbreak of rock-paper-scissors among audience members before the play began. The little girl in front of us enjoyed it so much that she squealed and giggled when she "lost" and her opponent's scissors went to town on her paper.

The acting is super, which is no surprise from Childsplay, the company that's been sneakily culturizing our children since 1977. Jon Gentry, one of the Valley's favorite actors, has the range to play just about anything (and does), but he's chosen to augment his "night work" with 28 years in Childsplay -- he's closing in on Wallace and Ladmo's longevity, at this point. David Dickinson, according to the program notes, left software engineering to become an actor, and damn, we're glad. The physical contrast between the two performers is another terrific element in a very visual production.

Rock Paper Scissors has one more performance, Sunday, June 14, at 2 p.m., at Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 West Rio Salado Parkway. Order tickets, $18, here or call 480-350-2822. Prolong your artsy getaway by checking out the art gallery -- "Outsiders Within," the current exhibition, is colorful, multimedia, and conversation-starting.

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