Friday, August 15, 2014

Review: Puppets of Love

Love. It's an evil thing. Life after love is rarely explored on stage. Once you're done, the story is finished. But when fate complicates the breakup, then there's a story to watch! In Fortuna Fantasia, a speck of dust forces a couple to continue to interact way after the relationship ends.
In Jesse Schreck's innovative romcom Fortuna Fantasia, a Ringmaster leads the audience to bare witness to the demise and aftermath of young lovers Claire and Jeffrey. After Jeffrey proposes and Claire denies it, a freak accident leads to Jeffrey breaking his foot leading to him not being able to move out leading to new love affairs with two whack jobs and a whole comedy of errors. What Schreck does is wonderful. He takes a simple love story and turns it on its head. The “expect the unexpected” comedy has a brilliant device in the Ringmaster who is not only a hilarious aspect of the show but draws and engages the audience into the world. However while the metaphor of the Ringmaster is a clever choice for the end, he serves more as a puppet master as the circus concept is few and far between. The plot takes some bizarrely hilarious twists that lead to a demonic end, which is a bit confusing and unclear. The script could use a little trimming in each scene reducing it to an intermissionless one act, keeping the momentum continuous.
Leading the pack as Ringmaster was Jeremy Weiss. Weiss was incredible and hilarious with his energy-filled character. He created a clear and bold character that worked wonders in the vehicle Schreck devised. Juliana Canfield as love obsessed Kathleen added a funny aura of psychotic against Paul Hinkes’ Jeffrey. The height difference of the pair was an extra hilarious element. Jacob Osborne as coma survivor turned epic poem scribe Thomas had some great bits against straight-laced Claire played by Chander Rosenthal. While the quartet was good, they were no match for Weiss.
Director Nailah Harper-Malveaux created an active world for the Ringmaster to control however his presence wanted to be even grander. Instead of observing the action from the shadows, having him manipulate his puppets may have been a stronger action, keeping the humor and device alive. Harper-Malveaux utilized the lighting and sound world designed by Amanda Chang and Max Gordon to her advantage.
Fortuna Fantasia a fun time with all the elements that make a Fringe show tick. A streamlined future may be in order but for now, this piece showcases an upcoming talent of the page and stage.

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