Tuesday, July 24, 2012

KC Fringe "Foreign Bodies" review by Detailer

Foreign Bodies misses
Rating: 2

Foreign Bodies
KC Fringe Festival

I went to this with high expectations because of the previous work of several involved. Unfortunately, this show does not live up to them for me.

Actors Greg Brostrom, Missy Fennewald, and Kate O'Neill are very good. Greg in particular projects a delightful, appealing openness that makes me care about him right away.

However, their skills cannot overcome my problems with the script. The premise is too unbelievable for me to accept with this natural, realistic tone. Perhaps if this were a farce rather than a drama, I might be able to play along.

I think it is risky to start a show with the characters being uncomfortable with each other, especially when the discomfort lasts so long and I am not told why. That awkwardness without basis makes it hard for me to invest emotionally. The introduction of a character who is angry without an understandable reason just adds to the problem.

It does not work for me that the explanation does not come until very late in the show. Instead of building suspense or being a delightful surprise ending, it just makes the show up to that point very confusing. Perhaps if more hints were dropped along the way, I might be able to suspend my disbelief.

There are also several scenes which I think last too long because the wordiness doesn't go anywhere. It doesn't reveal plot or character, does not entertain with flights of fancy nor explore significant issues. It is just very good actors talking.

The first part of the show is staged very well. The characters move around the set with ease and purpose, and the stage pictures are varied and interesting.

But then comes a long talky scene, which should be intimate, and the actors are blocked (literally) behind the sofa, leaning awkwardly against the UC table, and they stay there forever. It is not a pretty stage picture, nor does it make sense physically for the conversation they are having.

Most bothersome of the production values are long scene changes. I am not a fan of scene changes to begin with, and I particularly dislike them when they seem unnecessary to me. The effort to cover them up with mostly uncovered male and female models seems gratuitous and out of place with this drama. The script is not about physical attraction, but rather about relationships.

There are good moments among the actors, and the exploration of various types of relationships is a fascinating topic.

This one did not work for me as well as I had hoped.

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