Orlando Fringe Winter Mini-Fest 2020
Day 2 through 4
Orlando Shakespeare Center
Fire in the Meth Lab
Jon Bennet runs two shows in this Mini-Fringe: the surreal “Rabbit Night” (reviews in my last post), and this searing look into his fractured relationship with his Older Brother. Older Brother was a bit of a bully, making Jon uncomfortable and often in pain. As they grew up, his brother and he went separate ways: Jon in to entertainment and his brother into drugs and ultimately jail. This is all told against the back drop of the recent Australian fires, which burned out his family home. There’s a man with a lot of anger on this stage and the urge to present it to the world. It’s a story worth seeing.
Winnie’s Rock Cauldron Cabaret
I missed this pop music and dance extravaganza led by Jennica McCleary at the spring Fringe Fest, so I’m glad I caught it tonight. Winnie and her two assistant witches give us a high energy hour of 90’s Pop Tunes, Broadway Show Stoppers and Furious choreography. Like all good Fringe shows the re a bit of tragedy under al the glitz and glamor, but you can’t stop singing along long enough to get sad. Even the few songs I didn’t like were great, she might change my mind on a few singers.
St. Kilda By Jody Christopherson
St. Kilda is an archipelago off Scotland so harsh and desolate the mere 100 or so people who once lived there couldn’t even fish for food, they had to survive on sheep and goats and sheer determination. Tonight a young woman buries her mother and heads off to Scotland from mid-America, and quickly hooks up with a suspicious man with a boat. He agrees to take her to the island, and this unadvisable move propels a creepy ghost story and a review of the islands checkered past. Ms. Christopherson build the mysteries in this barely stage with loops of sound and a distinctive style. Like all good horror, you know not to open the door, but you do, and someone pays the price. Well-constructed and well worth the hour.
Meat Ball Séance
The jock strap and pinafore wasn’t as disturbing as Jon Michael’s tendency to get into your face and emote, no matter where you sat. Mr. Michael brings us together as we attempt to summoned ghost of his mother. No crystal balls or black candles, we’re down with real Ghost Buster’s stuff: Italian cooking. Audience semi-volunteers come on stage and chop, dice and sauté. I’m not a big crystal rubber, but hey, it’s entertaining and those meatball’s sure did smell good, and watching Mr. Michael bounces off the walls and dives into the audience. Food flies as he violates one of the big rules of theater: “No food on stage.” “Meat Ball Séance” is personal in an utterly unsettling way, but huge fun. Mom seemed nice enough as a ghost, but she kept pretty quiet and let her son take all the spotlights. And no matter where you sit, you might end up on stage Mr. Michael is willing to crawl to the last row if he needs a volunteer.
Six Chick Flicks
What do “Titanic,” “Beaches” and “The Note” book have in common? Most men would abandon sex before popping these Chick Flick classics in a VCR. But this fast and silly two woman show buzzes us though the absurdities and bad plot points of the movies they love despite their male-centric flaws. As we know Guy Flicks can’t solve any problem without a punch and a car chase. Women HATE car chases. Or so I Hear.
We begin with “Titanic” and its abused cross-class romance and its plethora of door suitable for floating on after a ship wreck. Then it’s on to showing how easy Law School can be if your well dress in “Legally Blonde.” “Dirty Dancing,” “Beaches,” and “The Notebook” rounded out this hexalogy. I admitted never having seen “The Notebook” to a female acquaintance and took a good bot of heat for my guyish ignorance. But we all love parodies, and the faster and sillier the better. That’s what these are: high speed, high concept jokes and a Cliff’s Notes for the romance movie avoider in your life.
How to Really, Really? REALLY! Love a Woman
While there’s nothing physically explicit on stage, there is a lot of sex therapy. Writer, producer, director and lover-in-chief Eleanor O’Brien, queen of this instructional performance does give the straight laced a chance to exit before the show goes all Yoni on us. One couple waited until 10 minutes in before bailing, but the rest of us held tight as we learned a bit more anatomy than they’d allow at Kids Fringe. Our narrator recovers from a failed marriage with guy who basically doesn’t know what he’s doing in bed. Then it’s a journey of self-discovery for Ms. O’Brian, and she takes us to a big, juicy ending. O’Brian has sex look easy as she makes a tough topic into a seamless self-examination of just how we physically make it through a relation. I enjoyed it, but your mileage may differ. Either way, if you stick to the end you WILL learn a lot about female anatomy, and that can be useful in so many ways.