Fringe Binge, 2012

Mo Rocca talks peckers, Büchner heads for the hills: Our festival review roundup

But try to find a show more purposeless and yet more delirious (if overlong), than LOLPERA at Theatre 80. Though its influences run more to Gilbert and Sullivan and jazz riffs, this opera is a fully sung-through gesamtkunstwerk about the battle for the world’s soul with lyrics drawn entirely from Lolcat captions. I can haz Fringe hit? Why not?

I have always thought that the Fringe existed more for the benefit of its participants than its audiences. For international companies, it provides an excuse to travel. For regional troupes, it bestows bragging rights that you’ve played Gotham. For college students and the like, it means adding a semi-legit credit to your program bio.

A notable exception is Independents, a new musical at Theatre 80 with a tragic backstory: The book writer, Marina Keegan, died earlier this summer just following her college graduation. Here, the audience, which seemed largely drawn from friends and relations, had come to celebrate her promise, displayed in this somewhat inexplicable piece about aimless twentysomethings who turn from drug dealers to historical re-enactors aboard a Revolutionary Era ship.

LOLPERA: The cat's meow?
Fresh Frame
LOLPERA: The cat's meow?
IM in trouble: Rachel Dratch and Dan Hodapp in Tail! Spin!
Dixie Sheridan
IM in trouble: Rachel Dratch and Dan Hodapp in Tail! Spin!

Yes, there are second act difficulties (we ought to know whether or not the boat explodes, etc.) and way too many reprises, but it is an affecting portrait of the young and aimless. You may find particular poignancy in many of Mark Sonnenblick’s lyrics, such as, “The moral of the story is that life goes fucking quick.” Yes. And there are many worse ways to spend an evening of it than in a theater with performers and spectators all hoping so bittersweetly for a play’s success.

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