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The Escapades of Farty Johnson The Shop at Fort Fringe

Remaining performances: July 23 at 6 p.m. July 25 at 2:30 p.m.

They say: A physical comedy gestation!!! Join Harold P. Johnson, esq. (aka Farty J.) on a messy, manic, dreamy, hilarious dancin’ romp that may land you SPLATT! inside the soft spot in your heart. Door Prize: Can O’Beans.

Ted’s take: Patricia Krauss has found the perfect venue for her one-woman “physical comedy gestation,” in which the irrepressible Tooty Johnson—-a metaphysically unmoored character played with the halting muggery of a Dana Carvey—-sweats her way through an audition that never happens. Let’s do the math: It’s a 1.) self-referential piece of character acting that 2.) engages the question of how a terminally weird, delusional thespian goes about the agony of self-promotion without 3.) much of a gameplan but with 4.) a mystical reverence for the transmogrifying possibilities of the proscenium. Really, then, this is a show about the fringe (and the people who live there)—-if not about Fringe itself.

It also, sad to tell, sports many of the classic Fringe pitfalls: spotty timing; an intermittent lack of discipline; and promising physical comedy that, in the absence of a better organizing principle, serves as its own message. Still, surprisingly touching moments shine through, including a soliloquy from Magnolia, a canine puppet who calls herself Tooty Johnson’s “fairy bitch mother” and observes that while everyone needs divine intervention, some—the Tooties of the world—need it more than others. Elsewhere, the noted direttore Federico Fartellini (complete with hook-nosed Commedia dell’arte mask) appears, and after confusing Tooty (the lady) with Così fan tutte (the opera), decides that perhaps he should give her a shot.

Two weeks ago, in a short capsule on this show’s sneak-preview, I praised Tooty’s dance, “an offbeat quadrille that somehow communicates deep sadness while keeping the audience in stitches. Can it sustain over the full 45 minutes?” The answer’s no; but I also think it could be something of a triumph, if Krauss pared down the monotonous quirk and fleshed out Tooty’s character. As is, we’re looking at a gestation indeed—-from a gifted performer who’s perhaps a bit more gifted in the filigree department than in the concept department.

See it if: You’ve ever wanted to see a Beckett short performed by Garth from Wayne’s World.

Skip it if: You agree with Tooty that “waiting can be boring“—-even when you’re waiting in the company of an affable contortionist.