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Archikulture Digest

by Carl F Gauze

Archive for May, 2012

We Will Never Forget

Monday, May 28th, 2012

We Will Never Forget
By Jason Nettle
Directed by Trevin Cooper
Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival – Brown Venue

Having seen my share of 9-11 plays on stage and in readings, I’m rather leery of the entire genre. The story is pretty much cast in concrete: “I was minding my own business, there was a big explosion, my friends are dead, and I don’t know what to do next.” Mr. Nettle sticks to this formula as he must, and then looks at multiple vignettes that explore all the basic human emotions from panic to fight or flight to rage and grief and even humor and hopefulness. While this tragedy and its aftermath are still too recent to make a sitcom, his humorous segments were some of his best – the freaked out Afghani cabby hoping to avoid a lynching, the method actor seeking to leverage some auditions, and the young couple who find each other after fearing the worst. Yes, this show is heart wrenching and nothing can replace the lives lost, but it is well executed and avoids dropping into the excessively maudlin more than absolutely necessary. It’s one of the few shows I saw that got an ovation and deserved it.

This show is part of the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival. Tickets and other information may be found at http:\\www.OrlandoFringe.org

Red Light

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Red Light
Directed by Wade Hair
Musical Direction by Jason Scarlat
Choreography by Joey Sikkema
Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival – Blue Venue

Seven sell outs, Patron’s Pick and a final sell out for that bonus show – cramped little Breakthrough Theatre has successfully carried their large cast, small space concept to the Fringe festival. They did pick some easy fruit, this show features scantily clad (and even FFN) dancers belting the hits of cabaret style performance and put it right in the audiences’ face. Songs like “Don’t Tell Mama” (Alexandra Milbrath) or “An Old Fashioned Love Story” by Erynn Hair from the obscure “The Wild Party” and the LED-spangled “You Gotta Have a Gimmick” from “Gypsy” are good examples, but that’s not to minimize the songs made famous by Marilyn and Rocky Horror. The sad part about this success is there are no plans to reprise it, if you weren’t one of the lucky golden ticket holders, you missed a great entertainment. To paraphrase the beach boys:”We had fun, fun, fun till Wade Hair took our cabaret away.”

This show is part of the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival. Tickets and other information may be found at http:\\www.OrlandoFringe.org

The Habit

Monday, May 28th, 2012

The Habit
By Wilson Loria
Directed by Ciara Carinci
Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival – Patron’s Room

Occasional Fringer Wilson Loria came up from St. Pete on short notice to fill in for a performer with visa problems. Loria didn’t get in the program, that’s a shame as Loria has always provided some of the more surreal theatre experiences of the Festival. Today he’s a nun who runs off with a broken toothed sinner for a night of passion and a life time of rejection. There’s a longish voice over sound track as Loria transforms from novice to lothario, he addresses the audience (some of us know him from way back) and while his story is often obscure, it’s jarring and disturbing. Images of salt pillars and soaring spirits combine to balance the lust of the moment with long term approbation authority figures are so good at. God said “Be fruitful and multiply” but the church added “but only if we say so.” It’s a disturbing dream, one you fortunately can wake up from.

This show is part of the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival. Tickets and other information may be found at http:\\www.OrlandoFringe.org

Madam Pee Vira: Dark Lady

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Madam Pee Vira: Dark Lady
By A.J. Prats
Dulceart Works, Inc.
Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival – Blue Venue

I actually had an actor try to talk me out of seeing this show, and while I appreciate his concern, sometimes I must sacrifice and hour or two of my life to the gods of incoherent entertainment. Madame Pee Vira looks like an elongated Dr. Frankfurter, but without the personal charm. She runs a psychic service, and counsels her customer (Sheli Nathan-Miller) to leave his lover Pig Cop (Steven Johnson) because she is already involved with him. Conflict of interest, sure, but after you’ve sold your soul, does it matter? Off in the corner is Juju (Adam Graham) her life sized voodoo fetish doll, and Frederick the Zombie (Jonathon Randolph) shuffles about, hoping for a chance to escape. This all sort of makes sense but I’m polishing a bit, we spend the next hour with about a dozen random characters entering and leaving, all screaming as loudly as possible. The only possible reason for all these people is to look cool on stage; the story is rambling and incoherent. I give good marks to the costumes including darling little cockroach Plaxce (Katy Palomino) and a gorilla fisted mail man (Cedric Nickles). But beyond that, the story is hard to follow and everybody has their overacting knob set on eleven. If you’re going to see this, bring along some garlic and holy water and silver crucifix.

This show is part of the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival. Tickets and other information may be found at http:\\www.OrlandoFringe.org

On the Nose

Friday, May 25th, 2012

On the Nose
Directed by Elena Day
Tobo Productions and One The Nose Productions
Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival – Green Venue

I was pleasantly surprised by this nice little lecture on the history of clowning. Mark Jaster appears The Professor and Sabrina Mandell is Miss Poppy Cox. They have some trouble setting up a slide screen, it’s the sort of problem Buster Keaton or Lucille Ball would have with technology. Once we get rolling, they explain clowning though example and some short films feature famous clowns (none of whom I recognized, that’s how clown unaware I am). We learn the nose is the “the smallest mask possible” and that clowning is all about working with and through masks. More fun facts – Krusty the Klown is really a meta-clown, a representation or parody of a real clown, and the fear of clowns “Coulrophobia” became very common after clowns started appearing in horror movies in the 1980’s. The Professor and Miss Cox are cozy and engaging, they don’t really make you take a test, and you can wad up your program and throw it at them. What fun!

This show is part of the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival. Tickets and other information may be found at http:\\www.OrlandoFringe.org

Bursting Into Flames

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Bursting Into Flames
Martin Dockery
Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival – Pink Venue

Not every society accepts Heaven and Hell as real places, but those that do take them pretty seriously. But describing them is tricky, we often resort to the cartoon versions of harps and clouds or devils with pitch forks, but these images distort the concepts – how many people have told you heaven sounds boring and all the cool people are partying in hell? That inverts the purpose, Hell should be unpleasant and Heaven wonderful. Traveling monologist Martin Dockery takes a shot at rectifying this conceit and actually does a better job than Gary Larson or your local pastor. Dockery’s version plays a clever psychological trick, his afterlife begins by swapping them but that’s all I can say now, there are security restrictions on information about the afterlife. Like all Dockery shows he’s bubbling with energy and bristling with imagery, my favorite is the joint that so long it has to follow the curvature of the earth. A+ entertainment and innovative theology at its best!

This show is part of the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival. Tickets and other information may be found at http:\\www.OrlandoFringe.org

Cannibal! The Musical

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Cannibal! The Musical
By Trey Parker
Directed by Logan Donahoo
Logan Donahoo Presents in association with The New Cannibal Society
Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival – Yellow Venue

Amazingly, this show is “based on a true story” but it sure doesn’t sound that way. Hapless Mormon adventure Alfred Packer (Chris Hampton) agrees to lead a party of miners to a gold strike in Breckenridge Colorado. His navigations skills are minimal, and winter in the Rockies is a mean thing. Along with him is his faithful horse LeAnn (Sarah Lockard), the always positive Swan (Benjamin Dupree) and a few other mooks and they head off into the worsening weather. They meet with some fur trappers (Dan Nichols, J Benedict Larmore, Eric Adamson) who taunt them again and call them “diggers” and make off with LeAnn. Things go downhill until all are rescued by the Nihonjin Indians (Danny Garcia) who recommends they winter with them and continue to Colorado when the weather breaks. Of course they don’t and soon the cast is greatly diminished and Packer is on trial for murder and cabbalism.

The show feels a bit rushed, but then they don’t have time to linger of the finer jokes. It’s a big cast and they sing decently, “Shpadoinkle” is an upbeat opener that engages, “Let’s Build a Snowman” is a classic Trey Parker bit of black humor and the entire town’s folks rally behind “Hang the Bastard” and show their support for Packer. Hampton’s Packer has the right mix of optimism and stupidity, the trappers are all vicious little weasels who enjoy killing things, even if they lack fur, and Monica Rea Andrews is nearly sexy as at frontier feminist reporter Polly Pry. Under Donahoo’s direction all the silliness gets focused down into the allowed time, giving the audience a fine cannibal meal.

This show is part of the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival. Tickets and other information may be found at http:\\www.OrlandoFringe.org

Good Girl’s Guide: Dominatrix for Dummies

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Good Girl’s Guide: Dominatrix for Dummies
With Eleanor O’Brien
Dance Naked Productions
Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival – Green Venue

What’s more iconic than a good looking woman in heels, a bustier and a toy whip? Eleanor O’Brien starts the show by demanding complete obedience from the audience. Turns out this audience LIKES it rough and after a short explanation of the dungeon rules and the “safe word” we are off for a lesson in submission and a fascinating story of how O’Brien ended up in the dom and sub world. Acting degrees don’t always lead to HBO specials and Eleanor ends up cruising Craig’s list as a cheap hobby. An ad for a “$75 No Experience Necessary” job gets a gig in “The Jewel Box,” a kinky palace in anonymous New York building. With few skills but great enthusiasm, she learns the trade, and finds the business of cleaning up bodily by-products is nowhere near sexy. Let’s just say: She earned that $75.

Be warned – besides the sexual overtones and nudity of this show, there are some wince inducing experiences described. The byways and back alleys of human sexuality can be quite convoluted and weird, and I’ll agree with her on the one big question: “How the hell did he decide THAT was what will get him off?” A damn good question and a damn good show.

For more kinky facts, visit http:\\www.dancenakedproductions.com

This show is part of the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival. Tickets and other information may be found at http:\\www.OrlandoFringe.org

My Three Moms

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

My Three Moms
By Virginia Bryan
Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival – Blue Venue

I often find “One woman, Thirty Charter” shows confusing, but Ms. Bryan keeps her slices of life crisp enough and the voices distinct enough to prevent me getting lost in the flux of black dressed women. “My Three Moms” focuses on her reactions to attending funerals for the three women who raised her. Her birth mother was British War Bride and ended up in Athens, Georgia. Mom 1 took to drink, and she found her husband in the bed of his widowed sister-in-law, they split. Mom 2 was black woman who took care for several years and always called her “my pink baby”, while Mom 3 was the woman who drove off Mom 1. Its bit of a soap opera, but then who’s life isn’t?

What comes though from all this flurry of opinions is the small town disproval of any sort of departure from traditional societal roles. Women marry early, raise children, and think little, and disapproving clucks guide you back. Elderly women offer creepy and un marriageable grandsons, a lack of children in marriage is a great a failing as producing any before the wedding, and the funeral service is as much about showing off the cooking skills of the survivors as honoring the life of the deceased. You might call this “heart warming” or “heartfelt,” but I see it as “yup – that’s the way we all are.” A whole season of jerry Springer in lurks here, but without the embarrassing cat fights.

This show is part of the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival. Tickets and other information may be found at http:\\www.OrlandoFringe.org

The Compleat Repertory: “The Greatest Speech of All Time”

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

The Compleat Repertory: “The Greatest Speech of All Time”
Timothy Mooney Repertory Theatre
Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival – Pink Venue

We’ve lost the skill of oration in this short attention span, click through counting world but up until fifty years ago the political speech was the main way of swaying the populace. Today speechifying is for generating sound bites and pig piling on minor errors from the opposition, but back then partisans could often come out of a speech saying: “I never thought of it this way!” Long time Fringe veteran and maniacal traveler Tim Mooney returns with five separate shows. This is the new one; the others have appeared in the past and are all worth seeing if you missed them before. I caught a private preview of “The Greatest Speech of All Time” and it’s every bit as good as his earlier work.

Reading speeches is like reading poetry, you have to hear the rhythm. Without it all you see are long, convoluted sentences that glaze over into gray wash of words. Mooney fixes that, he’s applied his Shakespearean skills to the problem and makes these speeches pop. In Socrates’ final speech, he mocks those who would put him to death: already old he sees death as a transition to the afterlife were he can converse with the greats and warns that more eager and stronger men will follow him, so beware. Or the stoics blandly put it” You do what you think is right, and I will do what I think is right.” This sort of thing infuriates tin pot dictators.

Another mocking speech is that of Frederick Douglas, an escaped and uneducated slave who became one of the spearheads of the abolitionist movement. His address to the Rochester Ladies sewing Circle and Anti-slavery Society points out the hypocrisy of the Fourth of July – we brag about liberty and equality, but do not apply it equally to our residents. Powerful stuff, and well declaimed.

This show is part of the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival. Tickets and other information may be found at http:\\www.OrlandoFringe.org