Tuesday, July 24, 2012

KC Fringe "Tack Driver" review by watchNwrite

Failed Experiment, but Potentially Great Show
Rating: 4

Tack Driver
KC Fringe Festival

Jerry Genochio's Fringe Festival experiment, on Friday, July 20th, went like this: 2 guys got up onstage and acted - sometimes with scripts and sometimes without them. The fact that it's called an experiment makes, or should make, an audience expect more danger or more interesting things to happen onstage than just "He is holding a script…he is not holding the script." Admittedly, one of the phrases which kept appearing both in the show and around it was "So here we are," suggesting a lack of expectations, as it were -- or a mere state of being. If it weren't for the skilled and poised acting of the piece, it might have failed entirely as a performance piece (as opposed to a closed-room acting exercise).

The acting of the piece - done by Kyle Hatley and Matt Rapport, as the two brothers, was indeed, very realistic and emotionally-charged (…shocker…). It has to be said, though, that at certain points, these actors missed entire mini-climaxes to this piece. The fault can lie on the shoulders of any one of these aspects: the script experiment, the director, or the actors. The action and the stakes would be rising, the emotions would be getting hotter, the lines would be getting more pointed…and one actor, namely Rapport, would barely be making an attempt to execute the script because his focus was on the actual in-hand script trying to read his lines. A guess at how irritating for the actor that had to have been can only be measured by how irritating it was for the audience member -- feeling that there could be more happening and wanting it desperately.

The set, designed by Misty Pelas, showed great pains to really create the world these characters were visiting. Gary Campbell's properties were believable, functional, and mood-satisfying. Margaret Spare's lighting design fell into place with the atmosphere and feel of the script. Though not much sound design was involved, it was obviously adequate and the costumes, designed by Betsy Kennedy, worked just fine for this experiment. In fact, none of the design elements overtook the script or the acting, which was a refreshing change from what ends up happening in a lot of productions in Kansas City.

Even with a slightly obvious device through which the exposition came, this script is probably one of the better-written pieces at the 2012 Fringe. The building of character, the drive of emotion, and the storytelling ability all helped make this piece successful despite what was a failed "experiment."

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