Fringe By Numbers, Day 4: "Frustrated Muppets"
Day Four, 7:00 p.m. Time Slot
Company: Frustrated Muppets
Venue: Playwrights' Center
Die Roll: 7
There was no program for this play, and there's not a lot of information on the Fringe website, either. So, I don't have a lot of insight into why these guys put together this play. I'm guessing that someone read the classic script No Exit and decided to do a modern (although it isn't that old to begin with) and comedic re-envisioning.
Re-envisioning things is one of the staples of theatre. How many times has Shakespeare been set in some odd non-Elizabethan setting, or redone entirely? How many classic operas got the Jeune Lune treatment over the last decade? How many pieces of classic literature have been tackled byJohn Ferguson? It's an effective way to create art. You take something that people know, and you play with it until you have a new piece of art that can be remarkable in its own right.
That being said, one has to be up to the challenge. No Exit is taught not only in theatre history courses, but also in classes on existential philosophy. Rewriting a major piece of philosophical work is heavy business. And in this case, I don't think it is terribly successful. We don't walk away thinking that Hell is other people, as we would viewing the original. Instead we walk away wondering what the point of all that was.
Basically, if you trap four people in a giant terrarium, you're going to get some conflict, and that happens. But, it is conflict with little purpose and no resolution. But, I'll give the artists in this piece the benefit of the doubt and say that resolution isn't the point, and that since this is absurdist in nature it might even be possible that the point is there is no point. this play could even be an interesting bit of character study, if the acting were better. One of the four was good. One was too stiff, another too much of a cartoon-like bully, and another was just not good at speaking lines convincingly. This felt like four early career theatre majors (perhaps in their sophomore year of college?) exploring the form. They have an interesting idea that they aren't yet prepared to execute fully. There's a kernel of goodness that begs to be explored and played with here. But the explorers are under-equipped for now.
In a few years, this may be a group to watch. They set their creative goals high. If they grow artistically to the point where they can reach those goals, then I'll be impressed.
Rating: d8 = Not Bad, Not Great
Ten Word Summary: Sartre's "No Exit" re-imagined in a hamster cage. Oh, Hell!