2021 Orlando Fringe Festival – Episode 3
by Carl F. Gauze
Warm weather and sunny skies brought out the crowds as the festival enters its midpoint.
Brandon Roberts and the silly but silent Gromalot Theater Factory (Orange) presents Smooch. We get a behind the scenes look at how people fall in love. Angels in large, puffy diapers chase them down and shoot imaginary arrows at them in the presence of there soon-to-be partners. A new Cupid transfers in and needs to learn the ropes, the arrows and the slings of hooking people up and committing them to a lifetime of fun and shared tax filing.
AWAY, NOW – The World’s Most Desired Destination comes from the fertile minds of Paul Strickland and Erika Kate MacDonald. This rather prop heavy concept uses projection and puppets to create a space you could never really find on earth, but you’d give anything to visit. Meet the gentle inhabitants of “Away, Now” and their marauding herds of angry cows. Most of the story took a cow’s eye view of tourisms as we we sold on the chance we could visit one of Strickland gently unhinged alternate societies. Strickland is a fringe tour favorite with his quirky free productions, but tonight he brings more objects on stage that I ever saw before. I’m not exactly sure what happened on the yellow stage, but I know this: it’s the sort of universe I would prefer to my own.
Loud! Quiet! Dancing girls! A baby! Asian food! Exclamation points! Pan-Asian absurdist’s!Mind Eater (Yellow Venue) arrived from Japan with as many props and costumes as they could fit in an overhead compartment. They are loud, funny, and inexplicable, and their show is like watching two animes at the same time with the volume turned up and the subtitles turned off. Walk in a univeres lover of sashimi and rice, walk out uncertain as to where you left your car. I found mine in the glove compartment.
If there’s a go to character in theater, its Oscar Wilde. Oscar Wilde and Jesus Walk into A Gay Bark (Orange Venue) takes us into the brilliantly dissolute mind of Wilde, a man prone to violating social mores. It’s the genius of early sexual ambiguity. Up stairs is a three piece band, down on stage is a flamboyant writer and raconteur. Commenting on Wilde’s poor life choices is a young man, beautiful and available Wild chugs a quart of brandy, sings songs and struts like the literary peacock we know and love. His counterpart explains and acts rationally, much to his detriment in the Wildean froth of sexuality. Highly recommended, this show packed in the energy of Wilde and an audience resonating with his ideas.
Rosegold comes from the pen of Donna Kay Yarborough. She details her bloody survival at the hands of a mysterious attacker at a campground. Her flat, no nonsense delivery gives us a classic “Spam in a Cabin” horror story enhanced by her quiet, matter of the fact delivery. The murder remains unknown, but not unknowable.
In Arden drag sensation Ginger Minj invades the Silver Venue to deliver a a fractured fairy tale from bits and pieces of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and modern pop songs. The entire inventory of fake vegetation from Jo-Ann’s fabric cover the stage and rafters while Ms. Minj directs the happiness and misery of people falling into the wrong arms. Loud, sassy and in your face, “Arden” more fun than a barrel full of Shakespeare insults.