BWW Review: WHO FRAMED ROGER REPLICANT Keeps Austin Weird at Butterfly Bar
WHO FRAMED ROGER REPLICANT is a futuristic parody of Who Framed Roger Rabbit - written, directed, and performed by the La Fenice ensemble. The ensemble performs in the style of commedia dell'arte - a type of comedic theatre with origins in Renaissance-era Italy that utilizes improv and stock characters who wear distinct masks. And although a Roger Rabbit parody wouldn't make my top list of top picks to see on stage, this group brings plenty of fresh and funny twists to the original story - with a little inspiration from Philip K. Dick.
On the surface - the show is about a sex android - Roger Replicant (Nate Dunaway) - that gets framed for murdering another sex android - Arlecchino (Adam Rodriguez). He is being tracked by Judge Doom (also played by Rodriguez), who wants to decommission the malfunctioning bot. The show gets off to a bit of a slow start. Even though the stakes are high for Roger, we don't really care much about the bot or his friends until a clever twist later in the show, where we discover more about his identity and the motivations of his creator/"mother" Lucille Brighella (Genevieve Kinney). But despite a lengthy build-up, the final scenes in the show are truly funny and worth the wait.
Even working with some really strange material, the cast as a whole seems comfortable - and every member of the ensemble lends a fun and unique energy to this performance. A third android model, Vivian Allgood (Kate Meehan), and Roger's "father" Eddie Brighella (Aaron Johnson) round out the over-the-top cast of characters. Highlights of the show include original live music (written/performed by Trevor Hickle), plenty of puppetry and slapstick fight choreography (Toby Minor), and witty improv that, while unexpected at times, allows the audience to relax a bit and enjoy the silliness of the show.
There are only two more chances to discover WHO FRAMED ROGER REPLICANT at the Butterfly Bar - Friday & Saturday at 10 pm. The show takes place on the outdoor stage - and the weather should be nice for it! Tickets are available in advance here. But you can also enjoy the show without a ticket and leave a tip for the ensemble after the performance if you prefer ($15 donations are recommended). And don't forget to grab a drink or two from the bar before the show in order to get the best experience from this uniquely weird Austin play. (Also - maybe leave the kids at home for this one. I mentioned it was about sex robots, right?)