Two nerdy musical fantasies make their debuts at this year’s Hollywood Fringe, one far more successful than the other.
Promoted as the improv troupe Robot Teammate’s first scripted production, this freewheeling spoof still feels rather slapdash. With characters racing frantically around the stage spouting acres of sci-fi geekspeak and pausing for the occasional musical number, it comes off as too self-consciously “Fringe-y” to be completely satisfying.
It’s also too densely plotted. Inventor Bruce Greenstreet (co-director Dave Reynolds), creator of time travel, is enlisted by Professor Allagan Allties (Chris Bramante) to find the Timeheart, the mythic center of spacetime, to save the future from the destruction brought about by Bruce’s invention.
They are joined in their quest by Bruce’s dream girl, Melody McMoon (Molly Dworsky), but must escape the clutches of the nefarious Lord Steve Antagano (Miles Crosman) and his assassin Viatrix (Nikki Muller). There’s a goofy-looking alien mystic, Beedo (Bryan Cain) and the elaborately-costumed Timeheart (Kat Primeau), who croons an opening number that’s far too dramatic for what comes after. The show also takes some thematic lurches toward the end.
On the plus side, the cast is game and eagerly engages in all the goings-on, and there are some intentionally cheesy effects. But there’s just so much going on that it becomes wearying even at 80 minutes. It just feels like it’s trying too hard.
Timeheart plays the Hollywood Fringe June 25 and 26 at Theatre Asylum’s Lillian Theatre, 1076 Lillian Way. Tickets can be obtained on the Fringe site.
Far more successful is this sassy, bargain-basement spoof of gamer culture. Here, the performers (David LeBarron, Karen Brundage and Will Norris) introduce themselves as the show’s writer, stage manager and composer, respectively, and announce that they’re going to give us a unembellished run-through of their exciting new musical.
They then begin portraying a group of thirty-something friends who get together every week to play Faerie Land Frolic, an immersive, role-playing board game, but find themselves being pulled via a magic portal into the actual land itself, and must “level up” in order to save the world and defeat an army of fearsome Orcs. How meta can you get?
Since the special effects haven’t been created yet, the cast frequently asks us to visualize the jaw-dropping wonders we’ll be seeing when the show is actually produced. Each of them plays multiple characters, exchanging fast and hilariously foul-mouthed dialogue that gives us not only a crash course in nerd culture but a glimpse into their everyday lives, also wittily observed.Writer LeBarron certainly has an ear for these character types, and one doesn’t need to be proficient in this milieu to find humor in the jokes. Every roll of the dice provokes an expletive-filled argument, as one player or another attempts to use a weapon he or she hasn’t earned enough lives for, or tries to enter another land prematurely.
The songs by LeBarron and Norris are equally salty, with titles like “I Wanna F**k a Unicorn (But Not in a Weird Way).” And when everyone becomes appropriately costumed for the land (including LeBarron in a hilarious mini-skirted Fairie outfit), it’s a riot.
Calculatedly underbudgeted and underproduced, with “sets” painted on posterboard, Nerd Anarchy wears its geeky heart on its sleeve – and the enthusiasm is infectious. It plays the Hollywood Fringe June 24 and 25 at the Three Clubs Stage Room, 1123 North Vine Street. Tickets can be obtained on the Fringe site.