BRIEF SELF-DESCRIPTION: "Three master thespians have gifted you the show of your life. Rejoice! They've agreed to do a talkback."
WE THINK: A special treat for theater artists and veteran theatergoers, The Talkback puts us at the end of what was apparently an excruciatingly earnest six-hour play, "Prodigal Father" by Shallow Screame Theatre Collective. The play's dramatic ending is followed by a curtain call and then the obligatory talkback.
Justin Jain, David Johnson, and Bradley Wrenn plunge into a daring improvised Q&A with the audience, who quickly catch on and pose hilariously ridiculous questions about the play and the ensemble's process, dubbed "ERIC, for "Everything (w)Ritten In Collaboration," for which they invent clever answers without missing a beat.
BRIEF SELF-DESCRIPTION: "A showcase of Philly's stand-up comedy talent, scientifically formulated to cause laughter while simultaneously stimulating your cerebral cortex. Featuring Doogie Horner, Dave Terruso, Mary Radzinski, James Hesky, Alex Grubard, Darryl Charles, Carolyn Busa, Alex Pearlman, Mika Romantic, music, and more."
WE THINK: How does a stand-up show dedicated to promoting rationality and scientific skepticism succeed without being overly dogmatic?
The answer, clearly, is by not sticking too hard to the mission. Visible Friends Network, a local group of like-minded people promoting the burgeoning freethought movement in arts and media, perhaps aimed to set a more inquisitive tone for the night by laying out James Randi Educational Foundation flyers on each table (the foundation, by the by, will give you a million dollars if you can prove any paranormal abilities – get on it). But, the roster of comedians only really engaged with the objective in superficial and seemingly obligatory ways. The only comic who was really successful with the objective, perennial Philly’s Phunniest finalist Darryl Charles, did so by making repeated jokes about circumcision rituals (so, basically, the jokes he’d already be making).
"The video piece, a noble attempt to draw attention to the Free Library Hot Spot at Heavenly Hall in West Philly, was aesthetically handicapped by its major selling point — that it was filmed and co-edited by children who frequent the space."
I can't begin this review without telling you this: I know next to nothing about opera. I had never been to an opera before this one. In fact, I didn't know this show was an opera until I actually got to the Adrienne.
It's sort of pointless to review Matt&, since its premise means no two shows are remotely similar: Philly comedian Matt Holmes picks someone from each night's crowd to improvise an entire show with him.
One could argue that including South Asian dance performances in the Fringe lineup is very consistent with the festival's principles, since audiences will be exposed to something they may have never seen.
The solo performer plays eight real-life individuals who have dedicated their lives to improving the human condition, like Madeline Albright, Arianna Huffington, Kiran Beth Sethi and Wangari Maathai. Also, some dirty jokes.