Sunday, June 5, 2016

Review: A Musical About Fisting

By Michael Block

The subject of a musical can literally be about anyone or anything. But just when you think you’ve seen it all, you’d be wrong. Enter The Disembodied Hand That Fisted Everyone To Death! The Musical. With a book by Anderson Cook, music by Amanda D’Archangelis, and lyrics by Cook and D’Archangelis, this campy riff on comedic horror was a groan through the laughter kinda show.
There's a reason it's a late night offering. With the title alone, you know exactly what you’re about to get yourself into. Set in post Salk vaccine America, The Disembodied Hand That Fisted Everyone To Death follows the ambitious Dr. Meyers who reanimated an arm. When the arm gets a mind of its own, it goes on a killing spree at a local frat house. Littered with kinky bits, social commentary, and crude humor, the musical is campy to the max. Because of the nature of the piece, your can partially forgive the convoluted plotline, the minimal stakes, and lacking character arcs. The musical does run under an hour. Cook and D’Archangelis have room to expand should they want to. What the team has going for them is it knows what it is and can go even further with the crudeness. But no matter the changes that are implemented, this show needs an opening number. Perhaps in the vein of Reefer Madness, The Disembodied Hand needs a catchy hook. By the time we reach our first song, the musicality feels disingenuous. The other important next step once changes are made is to bring on a fresh director. With Cook already wearing an abundance of hats, a new director will be crucial as the litmus test for the comedy. Many of the jokes within the script just don’t land. And in this genre, when something is not funny, and it happens to be a recurring joke, it kills the momentum. Cook’s book is filled with gags that should be hilarious but only about fifty percent reach the audience. Where Cook and D’Archangelis succeeded is their unapologetic humor. The Disembodied Hand That Fisted Everyone to Death may be the gayest musical ever and isn't ashamed about it.
The cast that comprised this musical were game players. They knew what they were getting themselves into and just had fun. Not all were the best vocalists but the commitment level was pretty high. By far, the best overall performer was Ayo Edebiri as Wad. The character of Wad was Cook’s strongest recurring joke and Edebiri ran with it. As the “white guy”, Edebiri was brilliant. And it just so happens that this was Cook’s strongest character writing. The other whacky character that came to life on stage was Vivian played by Aby James. James played up the naughty virgin by going all in. When it came to the strongest vocal, that award goes to Francesca Ferrari as Charlotte. But the overall winner of the entire show was Connor Wright as Hand. Not only was Wright stuck in a tight body suit and mask, but he let his hand take the spotlight, amongst other things. Connor Wright may be the best hand actor in all of New York City, though it's a minimal category to compete in. Though you didn’t get to see his face until the curtain call, you knew Wright was comedy gold.
If you’re a prude then stay far away from The Disembodied Hand That Fisted Everyone to Death! The Musical. If you’re up for a raunchy, kinky, naughty night of silliness, this may be the show for you. Anderson Cook and Amanda D’Archangelis have some work to do but once they do, they could have something fun in their fists.

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