Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Two musicals! Two plays! And one WTF??

Billed as a "live action romance novel" the play The Boy In The Basement, about a quartet of college roommates who lock a handsome burglar in their basement, seemed far more corny than any kind of sexy. Silly dialogue and unbelievably contrived situations kept the audience from being seduced by the sexual moments, and the clumsy, uncomfortable attempts at evoking a sexual and/or romantic atmosphere undercut the attempts at screwball comedy. It didn't help that the central female character baby-talked and acted like Chrissy from "Three's Company"- though perhaps that was an intentional choice as late seventies television is exactly where this play's sensibilities lied.

How can we not mention [title of show] when talking about the self-referential, metaphysical play The Naked Dead Elephant in the Middle of the Room? Downstage right the playwright character is brainstorming with his boyfriend about what type of play he should write for the Fringe Festival. As the playwright fiddles around with the script, actors enter and fulfill the whims of his keyboard. Unlike in [tos] where there is a journey towards a goal with a beginning/middle/end, this play ambled around from one metaphysical joke to another until the playwright gives in and snips the play off with its logical conclusion announced early on in the play. It should be stated that the boys are cute and upbeat and clocking in at 45 minutes the whole shebang comes off pretty chipper and painless.

In Becoming Britney "a snarky musical adventure", it is the few musical numbers written in Britney's heavily ornamented pop style that really explode and make this production come alive. Oddly and tragically most of the score falls along the lines of traditional musical theater and there were some numbers that, had I not already known I was at a show about the pop diva I would never known who we were satirizing. Happily though this production was extremely well staged and performed. Molly Bell as Ms. Spears is hysterical especially when she whips out a dead-on impersonation of Britney's trademark vocal inflections. Couple that with some tight, speedy direction and inventive choreography and we have a pretty great production of a pretty flawed musical.

Perez Hilton Saves The Universe (or at least the greater Los Angeles area) The Musical works far more successfully with the hysterical Randy Blair (co-author/title character) skewering Perez with the same gusto that Perez skewers Hollywood. Al Qaida attempts to infiltrate Perez's wildly popular blog via a hot hung guy-spy who has been wooing him via I mean come on, that's just goddamn funny. The musical numbers are a blast and the celebrity impersonations are delicious ("Hand me the pliers!....That's a crack-pipe, Amy Winehouse!"). Of the Fringe productions I have seen so far, this is the one that has the most potential of having a life after the festival.

Creena Defoouie, an oddball UK import, is a creepy/silly cartoonish musical play about a intense, seething, female Dr. Frankenfurter type who has taken it upon herself to assist the less mentally fortunate ("nutters"). Of course there are ulterior motives, derring doos and murders and the like. All in good fun, of course. Created by siblings Charlotte Barton-Hoare and James Hoare, this fabulous fucked up piece of work seemed like it was the product of a long summer in the countryside at Grandma's. This imaginative brother and sister team has their own language and their own comic sensibility and they are generous and crazy enough to share it with the world. It was fascinating.


Reader said...

Confused- thought you guys already reviewed this show

Aaron Riccio said...

Our coverage isn't uniform; we're in a race to see who can see the most plays in 2008, so it's inevitable that we end up seeing some of the same stuff, especially as you get into the mainstream, where there are less shows to choose from.

What you can see here are the types of shows each of us enjoys going to (read: our preferences/biases), and then decide for yourself how much you want to agree with or trust us.