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Tuesday, July 15, 8:00 p.m. Sunday, July 20, 10:15 p.m. Wednesday, July 23, 9:45 p.m. Sunday, July 27, 6:00 p.m.
They say: “Dr. Dour (vocals, 10-string guitar) and accompanist Peach (cello, banjo, cute) tell the personal stories of lovesick mummies, giant lizards, bargain-hunting zombies and other hapless creatures of the night in this cabaret cocktail of playfully macabre original songs.”
Jonelle’s take: “The story is the song! The song is the story!” insisted Dr. Dour (Toby Mulford) to Peach (Rachel Spicknall Mulford) during one of the many moments of transitional clowning banter in The Monster Songs. The self-professed Ethnocrytozoomusicologist refers to the refreshingly simple concept for this cabaret duo: As their title suggests, they sing songs about monsters — monsters that Dr. Dour encounters on his academic adventures around the world. And Peach helps.
Unlike the monsters that they immortalize, Toby Mulford’s songs are enchanting and exemplify the kind of whimsical, clever songwriting that can engage audience members of any age. A personal favorite, entitled simply “Barbara,” warns a retail worker that bargain-hunting zombies are coming “to take [her] life away.” There was a kazoo solo. It is easy to make comparisons between Mulford’s style and that of Tim Burton’s composer of choice, Danny Elfman. Monster Song’s finale piece – on the banjo! – would fit in perfectly on one of Oingo Boingo’s records.
Both Mulfords come to the Capital Fringe Festival from DC commedia dell’arte troupe Faction of Fools and their training is evident in the brief, but amusing moments of dialog. Both Dr. Dour and Peach have clear clown identities, emphasized by their bold make-up and costume choices. Despite their training, the comedic dynamic between the doctor and his assistant lacks some crispness. Peach’s incompetence and Dr. Dour’s dissatisfaction with her ability to perform with seriousness is repeatedly the joke, which, though very funny, begins to wear.
The Monster Songs is a perfect Fringe choice for your inner child or an actual child, but you’ve been warned: You will leave humming the songs and scouring the internet for an mp3.
See it if: Halloween is your favorite holiday and The Nightmare Before Christmas is your jam
Skip it if: You prefer musical theatre of the jazz-hands, kick lines, and grand finale variety.
Disclosure: The author of this post in the playwright of the Capital Fringe show TAME.