BWW Review: Day 1 Snapshot Reviews of GREAT SALT LAKE FRINGE FESTIVAL

BWW Review: Day 1 Snapshot Reviews of GREAT SALT LAKE FRINGE FESTIVAL
Michael Burgos' THE EULOGY

There is the joy of discovering a glittering jewel, along with an ineptly led misfire of a good idea. And an immediately endearing new voice.

KOF 77 By L.L. West, directed by JC Carter
Trumpster as Sun King is a wonderful kernel for the playful creation of a pompous-ass despot character. Sounds great on paper, but there's a few steps missing from page to stage. An eager-to-please Ryon J. Sharette is animated and joyful, even when his overly heavy, hard-to-decipher French accent ("I feel 'jong'"; translation: "young") hinders his delivery in this unnerving one-man show. The anticipated "Let's make France magnifique again" gets the best laugh, along with a chuckle at the reference to "building zee wall"; but no poking fun at "fake news" or a foreign-born socialite "I Don't Really Care" model wife or other ripe topics of political undermining. I learned from the author after the staging that the script is based on Prima Donald's first speech to the CIA; but a satirical, thoroughly stinging examination and less flaccid guidance would have more capably prompted audience enjoyment.

THE EULOGY Written, directed and performed by Michael Burgos
When is the next staging? The highly skilled auteur capitalized on the hilarious idea of a eulogist wooing the dead man's wife (Tina, the Lady Who Loves to Wear Flip-Flops) while memorializing at his friend's funeral to create a comic masterpiece -- justly lauded with a string of glowing reviews on previous Fringe stages across the country. The Roberto Benigni meets Robin Williams meets Al Sharpton character reveals his diplôme earned at École Philippe Gaulier, a prestigious theater school headed by the master clown and professor. Brugos adroitly combines the clown and bouffon comic genres in the hysterical, improvisatory-like script and then performs the hell out of it, with puckish, caricaturist-dreamed facial expressions. The deceased, Tomás, ate like he wanted to die. "All those eggs didn't fry themselves." He wasn't entirely loving. In actuality, Tomás complained about Tina "24/7/365/ABC." A broccoli-flavored birthday cake, mistakenly feeding dried, crushed red peppers to the goldfish Mr. Snowflake, and a gas station attendant named Jesús, who raises the dead. Shoot me dead if you don't also enjoy boisterous laughter.

MARTY HAS CANCER by Austin Archer, directed by Madeleine Gail Rex
Who the hell is Marty, and why should I care if he has cancer? "Watch it. It will rock your world": a direct quote and a recommendation. The playwright's and director's greatest strength is creating humorous, quickly relatable characters in this poignant, charming rumination on friendship and the effects of a friend's death (or maybe suicide?). The rapid-fire, overlapping dialogue by the main characters without feeling forced is yet another hallmark of this production. Jess Kellner as Rhoul (a struggling, self-questioning writer) and Sean Sekino as Choi (a seemingly lost soul) deeply impress. And these embraceable characters indicate the author's attachment to make Rhoul and Choi vividly etched. There are only slight missteps. The strikingly talented, handsome Dylan Stretchbery's monologue as Marty is unmemorable. Marza Warsinske as Marty's sister, Amber, is underutilized, leaving us pining for clarity that the author perhaps did not intend in the final and her single brief scene. Amber is Marty's twin; yet the kinship goes nowhere. There are many moments to gleefully enjoy in this second staging, after the Hollywood Fringe Festival: the supremacy of Simon Cowell; defining acting-performance ability by how convincingly tears are shed (with onstage actors crying in their roles); and a desire to fuck the high school flame, Teresa Blackwell. The takeaway: You matter.

Quick notes: Leave yourself time to locate venues in The Gateway's sprawling strip mall/office/apartment complex, with no signage to guide you until arriving at an abandoned retail space-cum-theater. And why in the world did management decide to close the two primary arterial traffic thoroughfares, with no pedestrians to speak of? These are initial deterrents. Do not let them inhibit you from fresh, invigorating talent and passion.

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From This Author Blair Howell

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