Saturday, August 25, 2007

FRINGE: Elephant in the Room

Elephant in the Room! is stacked high with comedy, like a pile of funny flapjacks drenched in silly syrup. It's got an outstandingly funny cast, all of whom are put to good use (particularly Ariel Shafir and Bjorn Thorstad). But Dan Fogler's play is remarkably uninspired for something that stems from Ionesco's Rhinoceros. For the first act, it gets by on charm and personality, but by the second act, it's clear (or perhaps doggedly unclear) that nothing much is actually going on. The epidemic that's turning people into elephants isn't captured by the political satire inherent in George W. Bush's emergency broadcasts, nor is it clarified by the Edenic love story between slacker Bern (Johnny Giacalone) and idealist Sylvia (Sarah Saltzberg). There's so much aimless pop culture that I half expected VH1-like commentary to interrupt the show (it didn't). Fogler's a funny guy, granted, but his brand of comedy lacks an idea big enough to last a whole show, and until he finds that, he'll be stuck stitching sketches together.

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