Friday, July 29, 2011

KC Fringe "Inspiration" review by Rabid_Reviewer

Technically Great, Emotionally Unmoving
Rating: 4

KC Fringe Festival

I would like to state up front that the technical aspects of this show are wonderful.  I like the set, the use of video, the costumes, the dancers, and (up to a point) the fight scenes.

Where it falls down is the connection with the actors and the audience.  The show begins with a video introduction to the world we are about to see.  Guns are not just outlawed, but the ability to manufacture them has been completely obliterated.  Society has now devolved to using swords and bladed weapons.

The social commentary of the show is a bit heavy-handed.  After the initial introductory exposition to set the stage, the dialogue for the first third is primarily expository as well, restating what was already covered in the introduction.

The actors are mouthpieces for the writer and in what I see as a disturbing trend in modern acting style, the actors simply say the words without actually feeling the emotions the words indicate are there.  To say it another way, if you aren't listening closely to the dialogue, you won't really know what's going on, because the performance consists of interesting positioning.

Technically, the performances are "correct" but lacking any emotional truth or depth.

The fight scenes are well choreographed, but suffer the same problem as the rest of the performance.  The actors are hitting their marks beautifully, safely, and are obviously well-rehearsed.  What was lacking was the intent to do bodily harm.  The rhythm of the fights could be maintained with a metronome.  The notable exception was the fight between Pierce (Tafik Muhammad) and Rick (Rufus Burns).  That single fight had not only the technical expertise and controlled safety of the rest of the fights, but also had the added element of making me believe the characters actually wanted to kill each other.

Because of the addition of the dancers during the scene changes, I wondered if the precision fighting style was an artistic choice, intended to make the fights more dance-like.  I suspect it wasn't a deliberate choice.  If it was, I would say that particular choice doesn't quite work.

Which brings me to the dancers.  Again, they did quite well, and I enjoyed their performance.  What came to my mind while watching them was simply, "What is the statement they are supposed to make?"  They seemed to be an artistic conceit rather than an integral part of the show.  I can be dense sometimes, so if I missed the point, I apologize.  From my point of view, they were there merely to make the scene changes more enjoyable.  If that is the case, they did that wonderfully.

This show is a work in progress.  Viewing it as such, I hope my comments will help to improve on that progress.  I would like a little less sledge-hammer philosophizing and a bit more compelling characterization.  But that's just me.

This show is definitely worth watching and has a lot to commend it.  It just isn't quite done, in my opinion.  If you want to be moved emotionally, I don't think this show quite does that, but if you can appreciate technical greatness, this show has it in spades.

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