"I was attacked by a vicious band of Slinkies."
Walking Boxes Productions
Horace Greeley the Lesser: On the Isle of Misfit Toys
Fifty years have passed since Rudolph visited the fabled Isle of Misfits. Now the hapless toys live in terror of their new, evil dictator. Can Horace, armed only with his musical weapons, liberate the Misfits?
A couple of friends and I discussed this one at length afterward in the lobby. Which is (almost) never a bad thing.
One of them held up the show postcard. "So, what do we think?"
There was hesitation.
The preview was essentially the title character recounting his battle with a group of ornery Slinkies. Slinkies who had armed themselves with big lawn darts. The human character was affecting a sort of surfer dude vocal delivery. The story seemed to get away from him now and again (not forgotten, just off on tangents that he seemed to remember wouldn't get him done within the three minute time window, and so there was a course correction or two in mid-sentence to keep things hopping). The two assistants operating the evil Slinkies and lawn darts in the background were hard-pressed not to upstage the narrator, since they had a lot of fun and funky moves to execute.
The thing that kept this preview from going off the rails was the incorporation of rhythm and music. The narrator was wearing what looked like a converted scrubbing board for doing laundry by hand. It was serving as the breastplate of his makeshift suit of armor. When the Slinkies tossed a couple of lawn darts at him, he picked them up and began running the darts over the ribbed metal on his body. It became a sort of syncopation faceoff between him and the Slinkies, which was kind of cool to watch.
One friend wasn't sure how long she could take a "surfer dude" style of speaking, even at Fringe length.
Two things had me leaning toward it, which I shared with my friends.
One, Walking Boxes has been pretty consistent in experimenting with music as part of their narratives. Sometimes successfully...
2006 - The Musicker's Balalaika
Sometimes less successfully...
2007 - Wallace and The Dragon
One hopes they've learned the good lessons from the Musicker and the bad lessons from Wallace and combined them into another winner.
Two, anyone who grew up seeing Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer on TV at Christmas time, has a special place in their nostalgic heart for The Island of Misfit Toys. ("*Nobody* wants a Charlie-In-The-Box!") One of my friends also swooned at the thought of them, right along with me.
This can be a double-edged sword of course. You don't f*ck with The Island Of Misfit Toys. But a certain segment of your audience can't help longing to go there again.
So, I was arguing in favor of this Fringe show.
I may sometimes be impatient with a Walking Boxes production. But they're never predictable. And, though I know some friends disagree with me, I find they're never boring. Sometimes frustrating. But never boring. I'm curious to see what they've got up their sleeve this time.
The Fringe's YouTube page should have the Fringe-For-All clip up in the coming days, so check back there and see for yourself. Meanwhile, some other online resources...
Their website - www.walkingboxes.com/HoraceGreeley.html
Their show page
And their own odd little video trailer...
And the Fringe-For-All preview...