To a mime-phobe's relief, Hugo and Ines take their craft to a level beyond the creepy slo-mo pantomimes and sheepish shrugs of your average white-faced street performer. It's hand puppetry sans the puppets, appealing to everyone's fascination with manipulating our bodies. (Unlike the current New York hit Puppetry of the Penis, Short Stories is for kids too.) Often centering on a lonely figure, their narratives possess a literary quality that speaks with quiet action.
In a series of vignettes, the black-clad puppeteers appear onstage individually or in tandem. A few deft movements later, they're upstaged by a cartoonish figure in pajamas, fashioned from their intertwined hands and feet. Or by a frowsy diva in an evening gown and sunglasses. Or by a lithe dancer formed -- incredibly -- from Ines's clasped hands. Discarding dialogue and sets, they also use few props. So subtle is their art, though, that they can make audiences emotional about the dire straits of Hugo's knee, disguised as a musician busking for money on a city sidewalk.