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Redrum at Fort Fringe, 612 L St. NW
Thursday, July 21, 10 p.m.
Sunday, July 24, 5 p.m.
They say: “What makes a man a monster? Tentacles? Tentacles help. This bittersweet comedy explores and celebrates what makes us unique and what pulls us together in hard times, and reminds us that horrible squid monsters are people, too.”
Lindsey’s Take: This is a little play about monsters. It comments on our humanity. It has funny and snappy lines. But it was written and directed by college students, who also star. And now you know that.
Had I expected such young actors—-and an equally young crowd—-I would have been impressed by the show. The writing is quick in that scattered, conspicuously quirky way. The plot…well it kind of went like this: Covert tentacle monster meets girl. Girl is closest thing monster has to a friend. Monster is outed as monster. G-man apprehends monster. G-man conducts science on monster, whose tentacle problem becomes worse. Girl somehow gets past security, is the only person who understands monster. Girl hugs monster. Monster is killed for being monster, and somehow seems OK with that. fin.
So, yeah, the show has some heart. The monster is more tragically human than his captors, and the audience sees that. We understand him. But it’s not easy cramming character development, an exciting plot and a dÃ©nouement into a Fringe-length show. This one doesn’t quite do it.
The cast performed admirably, though, on the night I attended. There are awkward supermarket interactions, wherein the monster (Teddy Kavros) is comically frustrated by his predicament and the girl (Emily Wolfteich) is appealingly earnest. There are hilarious moments from writer/director/actor Soren Paul Budge, playing the zealot G-man, as he condemns the monster for what he is. The sight of the poor monster trying to mash his tentacles on the keys of an old typewriter to prove he is human is practically the stuff of David Cronenberg or David Lynch.
And we now know that the college student’s idea of humanity is getting up, going to work, eating dinner alone and crying yourself to sleep. Sounds about right, I guess.
As this show revels in its own oddity, it does succeed in capturing an image of humanity, rushed though it may be. The monster is resigned to his fate, the G-men and scientists are bent on condemning him, and the audience just sits and watches it all happen.
See it if: You like Michael Cera and quirky dialogue, or still have a
Manic Mansion-esque attachment to tentacles.
Skip it if: Monsters are always monsters, and college plays belong in college.