Arts & Culture
Fringe Fest 2013 reviews
Our top seven picks
Published: May 22, 2013
Ethan (Volence) is a misanthropic barfly who eagerly awaits a calamity to give Etch-a-Sketch Earth a good shake, until the end of the world actually arrives. A wrath-of-Al-Gore tsunami flushes Florida away, leaving Ethan stranded on a Walmart-waste-strewn desert island with a handful of fellow Losties. Matchett shows up as the smartass narrator who spoils the show’s Fight Club twist early on: Ethan is actually alone, and his castaway companions are only figments of his fractured psyche. Ethan says he’d “rather be Mad Max than Walt Disney,” but he’s going to have to confront his antisocial addictions (personified by a towering, bony-fingered puppet, provided by the mad geniuses behind Dog Powered Robot) if he’s going to leave this Waterworld wasteland behind.
If you’ve ever thought, “What the world needs now is a nice solid plague,” this sharp-tongued show is for you. Matchett’s pop pastiches and power ballads are hummably hooky, though an inconsistent microphone mix (par for the course at Fringe) and sketchy ensemble harmonies make hash of some rapid-fire lyrics. Volence commands the room – and blows its doors off – with dynamic desperation and dynamite rock-god delivery. Apocalypse, according to Ethan, equals revelation amid death and destruction; Key of E reveals a potentially powerful new musical inside a slightly rough-hewn shell. If the world is going to end anyway, I just hope that when it does it rocks this hard. – Seth Kubersky
JETT BACKPACK AND THE BATTLE AT THE END OF THE UNIVERSE
through Saturday, May 25 | Yellow Venue | orlandofringe.org | $10
Some come to Fringe for weighty provocations, and some come to see a great performance. Others come simply for the guilty pleasure of watching actors make fabulous fools of themselves, while listening to William Shatner destroy David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” If you’re the latter undiscriminating, deranged individual and have a penchant for bad sci-fi, your mind may just be blown by Yes/And Theatre Company’s Jett Backpack and the Battle at the End of the Universe.
After the “Earth Itself” is kidnapped by a gang of over-the-top, out-of-this-world interstellar idiots, only Jett Backpack and his equally bumbling yet enthusiastic do-gooders can save the day – or something like that. After all, writer Josh Geoghagan’s plot, though half-baked, matters little when you’re mashing together Star Wars, Star Trek and Flash Gordon, and giving it the campy, low-budget look of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.
John Bateman plays the title role, but it’ll likely be Jennifer Guhl (as Captain Clementine Cardigan), David Almeida in delicious drag (as Jett’s mother, Galaxia Randolph) and especially Kevin Sigman (as the Emperor of the End of the Universe) who will beam you up the best. In fact, Sigman rules his Klingon-y kingdom so well that not even busty beauty Dorothy Massey (as the Emperor’s daughter, Princess Positronic) can rekindle the energy that’s lost following his ouster from power by the Sinister Dr. Saurian, a “dinosaur scientist” played with reptilian relish but not enough refinement by Stephen Lima.
> Email Jessica Bryce Young