Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Fringe - Day 5 - Part 3

The Captain and the Dog-Faced Boy
Jungle Theater

The late hour did not keep the crowd away, nor did it dampen their enthusiasm. They laughed loudly and often and applauded wildly, and not just at the end of the show.

It's hard to state clearly and succinctly what this show is about because there's really very little plot. It's more of a character study, particularly of the relationship between the title characters, two fish very much out of water in the modern world.

The script is a very assured work of poetry. The language flows quite beautifully, and often hilariously, from start to finish - and exclusively from the mouth of one character, that of the Captain. But John Middleton, the playwright as well as the actor playing the Captain, knows his words well and gets the full effect from them at every turn of the story. While the Dog-Faced Boy is all but mute, the physical comedy he performs makes him a more than equal partner in the tale. His dancing is, well, it has to be seen to be believed. John Middleton is to be commended for handing over Dog-Face to another actor, who frequently threatens to steal the show. Thankfully, it's very good-natured theft going on here.

The play, in addition to being about the title characters, is very much about the potential of theater, which it shows to be all but limitless. Engaging the audience's imagination is key, and this production does that in spades. The characters emerge onto a bare stage, with precious few props, and through the actors' reactions to their unseen surroundings, and some changes in light and sound, everything from a dance club to hotel to grocery store to open street are fully realized. In addition, the Captain and Dog-Face perform on the street for spare change from passersby - creating what turns out to be a negative-image of Shakespeare's The Tempest, with a touch of Hamlet thrown in for good measure, skipping ahead to the good bits when their spectators begin to get restless.

There's also an ominous pair of huge green pants that wanders into the action at various turns in the story which may represent the modern day equivalent of pure evil, but I'll leave that one for you to figure out for yourselves.

Suffice it to say, this is a show, like many at the Fringe, that you aren't likely to see anywhere else.

And as the program says, if you like this show, go see 15 Head's Oil on Canvas, also written by the same playwright.

And if you don't like it, well, go see 15 Head's Oil on Canvas, written by the same playwright, but completely different from the adventures of the Captain and the Dog-Faced Boy.

No comments: