Theater is always evolving. New innovations spring up that allow the audience to experience a whole new world of theatrics. Puppets and projections are nothing new but the way we use them has broadened to something extraordinary. In P.S. Jones and the Frozen City, the new work by Robert Askins, these elements, among the entire design, are nothing short of spectacular.
P.S. Jones and the Frozen City, a comic book inspired work, follows P.S., or Pig Shit as he’s named for his occupation, sets off on an adventure to make a difference in a post-Apocalyptic world. With the aid of a ghost and a spirited hand, P.S. heads to the Frozen City to stop his Brother and the Great Glass Spider from destroying the utopian paradise. On his journey, P.S. encounters a hodgepodge of characters, from a dueling siblings to cult of cannibals to a giant builder, that help P.S. discover his purpose in this new world. Robert Askins story is rich in humor and heart that the occasional vulgarity is amusing. The characters he has created, with the help of a beyond-stellar ensemble, allows for a sensationally fun night of theater. Journey stories are hard to pull off on stage. Despite some confusing hiccups in plot toward the end, Askins and director Jose Zayas have created a world that is engaging that makes you want to come back for more. And luckily in the end, we’re left with “to be continued.”
Overall, the ensemble was extraordinary and daring offering some superb performances. Joe Paulik as the title character was exquisite as the sincere dreamer. His genuine performance brought a perfect mix of feeling and humor, easily carrying the show on his shoulders. Bobby Moreno, who played multiple roles, shined as Lothar, one of the puppets and integral characters of the story. Despite the puppet taking the glory, Moreno was ever-present. The only actor seemed lost in the vibrant cast was Sofia Jean Gomez who perhaps didn’t get to have as much fun in her track compared to the others. A special recognition should be given to the puppeteers, Chloe Moser, Katey Parker, and Eric Wright, who was also the Puppet Designer. But the standout performance came from none other than Preston Martin as Benjamin, P.S.’s brother. Martin is a first class comedian, stealing every moment he stepped on stage. His perfect mix of physical humor and comedic timing was everything his villain in training needed. Martin is one on the rise, so continue to look out for him! Hopefully we’ll get to see him reprise his role in the sequel to Frozen City.
As mentioned earlier, the design concept of Frozen City is phenomenal. Imagine what would happen if the production had a Broadway worthy budget! The complete design was the eleventh member of the ensemble. From the Puppets to the colorful lights by Ryan O’Gara, working cohesively with Jason Simms comic inspired set, even to the movie poster worthy program, there was rarely a moment of defeat.
P.S. Jones and the Frozen City is a sensory triumph that will leave the audience wanting more in all the right ways. Frozen City proves why Robert Askins is one of the most in demand young writers around.