Wednesday, August 22, 2007

John Goldfarb Please Come Home

If Rip Van Winkle started his nap in 1964 and woke up this week at this (Fringe Festival) musical, he'd think he hadn't slept a day. As if untouched by time, the miserably unfunny early '60's comedy is now - for no good discernible reason - a miserably unfunny stage musical, presented reverently as if the tired, hopelessly square material is timeless comic gold: is there anything more dated than the toothless satire of yesteryear? Set mostly in the fictional Middle Eastern kingdom of Fawzia Arabia, where an American pilot is coerced into coaching a football team and an American gal reporter is belly-dancing undercover in the King's harem, the smell of mothballs competes with the stench of curdled jokes long past their expiration dates. There are a few good melodies in the score, which does its job of approximating the style of the era, and there are a couple of standouts in the supporting cast: Hope Cartelli does a deadpan turn as a Russian spy masquerading as a harem girl, and Adam Hargus steals focus whenever he's on stage even with his groanworthy material as The President. Otherwise, this is a waste of time.

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