Get Your 3rd Reich Love Dolls Here!
KC Fringe Festival
I wanted to like this show. I really did. Based on past productions at the Fringe, I was expecting something better. However, this didn't quite meet the standards set in the past. That said, SEE THIS SHOW!
I'm bound to be the dissenting voice but I don't want to leave you with a bad impression. I can describe this show in a word....uneven.
There were some phenomenal performances in this production. There were also some bland performances in which I felt the actors were simply speaking the words with only the barest nod toward characterization.
The concept is immediately made apparent when the stage manager calls the opening light cues in full view of the audience. This show is going to break with the fourth wall conventions and admit that this is a bunch of actors doing a play. An interesting concept, definitely. The execution leaves something to be desired. The show lacks a solid spine for the overall concept.
The script was solid, cleverly interweaving bits of historical fact into a piece of performance art. My prejudice for historical fiction that uses historical characters is that there needs to be some nod to the historical reality of the characters being portrayed, either by picking a particular trait and exploiting it, satirizing it, or playing the complete opposite of it. The characters in this production seemed as manufactured and as real as the love dolls that are the subject of the play.
This is a comedy, so I'm not looking for historical accuracy, but I still demand dramatic truth. In my opinion, every time the scene ended, the actors dropped character to take their bow, only to have to build up to the character for their next appearance. This hindered the character through-line from one scene to the next.
As an acting class experiment, it was highly successful. As a production piece, it was actors being actorly, a masturbatory melange of "look at me." The production worked best when the actors were playing their characters unself-consciously. It worked the least when the characters were not fully invested. Ironically, in the first section of the piece, the most convincing character was the love doll itself.
In spite of everything I have pointed out, I think most people will truly enjoy this show. Take it for what it is. It's an inspired idea that just fell short in the delivery.
It's definitely worth seeing, just not as overwhelming as I've come to expect from this group.