Thomas Hawk, via Flickr
CP writers are reviewing nearly a hundred shows at Fringe this year; check back for the latest over on our Fringe page.
SHOW: By the Slice
GENRE: Theater / comedy
GROUP: ETC Theater
ATTENDED: September 5, 8 PM, Shubin Theatre
CLOSES: September 13, 2013
BRIEF SELF-DESCRIPTION: “Serving up a slice of life from the local pizza joint. In a world where everybody is a foodie, sometimes you just need a greasy slice of pie served on a paper plate.”
WE THINK: The inside front cover of By the Slice’s playbill features a two-paragraph admonition of how the Fringe allegedly screws over the artists it purports to help. The final sentence: “Being in the Festival is a lot like wearing a shirt from Banana Republic made in Indonesia under near slave conditions; sure it isn’t the right thing to do, but we’re gonna do it anyway.”
From this bold statement alone, one might expect the eighth Fringe production from King of Prussia-based ETC Theater to be particularly clever and caustic. Unfortunately, By the Slice doesn’t quite live up to those expectations. The claustrophobic Shubin Theatre is transformed into a mock-up pizzeria, complete with curtains and neon signs on the outside windows that will probably confuse passersby for an actual cheap pizza place, for this family dramedy about a family-owned joint threatened by the shiny new gastro-sensation next door.
ETC claims to make theatre “for the TV generation.” If this means that By the Slice was supposed to be an extremely self-aware take on life-in-a-restaurant sitcoms (complete with hackneyed Italian-American stereotypes and sexist quips), then it was at least partly successful. The rushed line delivery and stilted blocking from most of the actors hampered certain key punch lines, however, and made it difficult to tell whether or not By the Slice was actually supposed to be satirical. But given how casually they criticize FringeArts in those playbill statements, ETC just might not care how anybody outside of their core audience (which brought rambunctious energy to this sold-out performance) perceives their intentions.
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