Hans the Obscure!

Jeff Dahlin

During his lifetime, Hans Christian Andersen wrote hundreds of stories. Some, like "The Little Mermaid" and "The Little Match Girl," are still in the public consciousness. Many others have fallen into obscurity. Mindless Mirth Productions tries to rectify that with Hans the Obscure, with decidedly mixed results. The company presents a trio of lesser-known Andersen stories. The two short pieces in the first half of the program do their work, presenting simple, clever observations on humanity. The last, "Little Claus, Big Claus," stretches the audience's good will to the breaking point, with a story that meanders rather than builds, as the "hero" (his actions lead to multiple deaths) uses his wits to make his riches and exact revenge on his tormentor. The pieces of the story aren't stitched together particularly well, and the small company runs out of energy long before we finally get to the end. The performances are not that sharp, though Mahmound Hakima is entertaining in his roles, especially as the title character in the first story, "Clod Hans." Otherwise, there were plenty of flubbed lines and stilted moments, which made the show feel a lot longer than its hour running time. Creator and director Lawrence Ripp has a good idea for a piece here, but the execution leaves plenty to be desired. $12-$15. 810 W. Lake St., Minneapolis; 612.825.8949. Through January 29

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