2010 Orlando Fringe reviews: T

Here are reviews of offerings at the Orlando International Fringe Festival from Sentinel theater critic Matthew J. Palm, staff writers Tod Caviness, Dewayne Bevil, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Jim Abbott, Martha Phifer, Alsy Acevedo and Fringe correspondent Mary Frances Emmons.

Terry Tippit's Terrible Trip to Troubling Trauma

Reviewed by Matthew J. Palm, Orlando Sentinel theater critic

This one-man show isn't exactly sure what it wants to be: Low-key storytelling, frenetic comedy, celebrity impersonations. Heck, there's even a banjo-strumming finale. This "throw everything in and see what sticks" approach means more in the audience might find something to like, but it leaves a hodgepodge of a show.

Neil Bernard, a Canadian, plays Terry Tippit, a U.S.-bound Brit, but not much is made of the differences between the cultures. He tells of his traveling adventures, but the tales don't build to any sort of climax.

I will say this: Bernard does a mean Christopher Walken impression. And he can rev up a banjo, too.

Red Venue, 60 minutes (though the night I saw it the performance was only 40 minutes). Remaining shows: 8:40 p.m. Sat. 5/22, 6 p.m. Mon. 5/24, 7:40 p.m. Wed. 5/26, 10:30 p.m. Thur. 5/27, 10:20 p.m. Sat. 5/29, 7:20 p.m. Sun. 5/30.

Third Time Lucky

Reviewed by Matthew J. Palm, Orlando Sentinel theater critic

In Third Time Lucky, Paul Hutcheson tells snippets of stories from his life in amusing fashion. The first half of the show is comprised of amiable recountings of strange situations at two of his jobs -- caring for troubled teens and as a high-school teacher. And those stories segue into three short tales of strange living situations.

The second half takes a raunchier turn with the funniest story of the night -- teenage Paul's first furtive forays into buying pornographic magazines, then ends with adult Paul's first gay orgy.

Hutcheson's show isn't as polished as some of the other Fringe monologists, but his "how did I get into this situation?" nice-guy charm goes a long way.

Pink Venue, 60 minutes. Remaining shows: 8:40 p.m Wed. 5/26, 11 a.m. Sat. 5/29, 7 p.m. Sun. 5/30.

Tod Kimbro: Robots Stole My Piano

Reviewed by Matthew J. Palm, Orlando Sentinel theater critic

Keyboardist-vocalist Tod Kimbro is well-known to Central Florida audiences, and his Fringe Festival offering this year shows why is popularity is well deserved.

Kimbro has a terrific, expressive voice and his fingers flying across the keys can be mesmerizing. But his show is more than his musical talent: It's the physicality of his playing, the arched eyebrows, the head tossed back, the pulsing leg. You can see he's feeling his music, and it makes you feel it to.

Saturday night, Kimbro played tunes from his musicals Loud and Suckers (in which he sang in character, resurrecting Goth chick Smegva by holding a simple mask in front of his face.) He also threw in some Billy Joel, Elton John and in a nod to the show's title, Styx's Mr. Roboto. Fellow Fringe artist Blue made a guest appearance for some duets, too, including a lilting version of Cyndi Lauper's She-Bop.

The show is designed to showcase electronica, but you get the sense Kimbro might just do whatever he wants. Whatever it is, it's bound to be entertaining.

Red Venue, 55 minutes. Remaining shows: 8:20 p.m. Sun. 5/23, 11 p.m. Tue. 5/25, 6 p.m. Wed. 5/26, 5:20 p.m. Sat. 5/29, 4 p.m. Sun. 5/30.


Reviewed by Mary Frances Emmons, Special to the Sentinel

Kimleigh Smith starts her hilarious one-woman show with a bang and never lets her energy flag for even one of her allotted 60 minutes -- the voluptuous LA-based triple threat lands every laugh in T-O-T-A-L-L-Y, and there are lots.

Seventeen-year-old cheerleader Kimleigh has a secret (v-i-r-g-i-n) and the story moves with dizzying speed from innocence to gang rape to a Herculean level of denial, followed by hysterical paralysis, hypnosis and recovery years later, after she has saved a life on the way to reclaiming her own.

It's a riveting story – though one best-suited for adults -- and the infectiously appealing Smith established instant audience rapport in her opening show Thursday night, despite a preachy patch or two toward the end. A fearless performance, and one you don't want to miss. All I can say is "w-o-w, WOW!"

Brown Venue, 60 minutes. Remaining shows: 1:40 p.m. Sat. 5/22, 8:45 p.m. Sun. 5/23, 5:15 p.m. Mon. 5/24, 5:30 p.m. Tues. 5/25, 11:45 p.m. Fri. 5/28, 11 a.m. Sun. 5/30.

Trojan Women

Reviewed by Kelly Fitzpatrick, Orlando Sentinel

Serious is certainly not a word I would use to describe much of what the Fringe has to offer. But when you do find a production or two that strays from the normal path, it can be a welcome change from the fun and whimsy of the festival's regular offerings.

As was the case with Eyewitness Theater Company's version of the Greek tragedy "Trojan Women."

There are changes from Euripides' original script, most apparently with the lead role of Cassandra's mother, Hecuba, being completely omitted. Instead we spend the play with only Cassandra, played by Gemma Flannery, Andromache, played by Suzanne Roche, and the infamous Helen played by Carly Tarett.

The three are awaiting their fate to be carried out by the Greeks after conquering Troy. Much of the blame, of course, being targeted on Helen for the loss of their home, family and friends. Cassandra manically worries about losing her virginity and uses her power of prediction to help Helen escape death. All the while, Andromache's sensible approach to their looming fate slowly unravels and reveals the madness lying underneath.

With a sparse set (the only props were a couple of blankets) and minimal lighting and sound effects, the weight of this production lies solely on the three actresses who pull it off for the most part. A couple of times the pacing of the actresses' Shakesperean-flavored dialogue became erratic (probably due to a forgotten line) but overall they did a terrific job of keeping the audience involved in the 75-minute play. Especially in a pinnacle scene involving the fate of Andromache's son that was extremely emotional.

Change is good from time to time and this is a solid option if you're looking for a bit more drama while at the Fringe.

Orange Venue, 75 minutes. Remaining shows: 6 p.m. Wed. 5/26, 1:40 p.m. Sat. 5/29, 1:40 p.m. Sun. 5/30.

The Trojan Women 2.0

Reviewed by Matthew J. Palm, Orlando Sentinel theater critic

The Trojan Women 2.0 takes the ancient Greek tragedy about the ravages of war and transports it to the modern-day Middle East, where it acquires a new resonance. Bombs explode, head-scarved women pray to Allah, and there is the sense that this is somehow real -- not just a fable.

Lesley Paris Noyes is a stand-out as Hecuba, who watches the destruction of her family, country and eventually her beliefs. Watch her desperate eyes flash at play's end as she rages "Let them bleed to death on their own graves" at the enemy soldiers.

Mixing in the modern touches works less well when the play creates strangely jokey moments. The male cast members are especially poorly served by the modern-day clowning business, which undercuts the play's effective mood of waste and loss.

But The Trojan Women 2.0 gives lots to think about -- the horror of war, how long we can hold to our ideals in the face of tragedy. Ponder those things when what's onstage gets too silly.

Brown Venue, 55 minutes. Remaining shows: 8:50 Tue. 5/25, 5:15 p.m. Fri. 5/28, Noon Sat. 5/29, 12:40 p.m. Sun. 5/30.

Tropical Depression

Reviewed by Matthew J. Palm, Orlando Sentinel theater critic

Maybe it's the fact that I've lived through too many hurricanes, but there just isn't enough tension in Tropical Depression, a slight show about a young woman preparing her grandparents' Florida home for an oncoming storm while mulling her life.

There's a lot of fussing with props -- boarding up windows, setting up hurricane lanterns -- but the production doesn't convey the building anxiety of the young woman, named Jenny, during the pre-storm days.

Alyson Innes, as Jenny, exudes girl-next-door-charm but frequently seems to be rushing through the story instead of letting the words have a natural ebb and flow.

Things pick up when the hurricane finally hits, and Jenny finds a bit of release in her life and the storm. But I found myself wishing the show packed a bigger emotional punch.

Blue Venue, 50 minutes (ran 40 minutes the night I saw it). Remaining shows: 7:40 p.m. Tue. 5/25. 6:55 p.m. Fri. 5/28.

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