Champagne Sundays Flashpoint Mead Theatre Lab – 916 G Street, NW
Remaining Performances: Saturday, July 19 @ 12:00 PM Saturday, July 19 @ 9:00 PM Sunday, July 20 @ 4:30 PM
They say: “Roy and Mary Jane, freshly retired to Florida, become best old friends with Byron and Buddy in a “dramedy” that juxtaposes the present, the past, and the imagined. The play examines a late-life longing for personal change, charting too the various risks and rewards of building new relationships.”
Mike’s take: To start, let me reveal a bit of personal information. I’m in my early 30s, which probably accounts for why much of the humor of this performance was lost on me and not on the rest of an older audience. It simply appeals to a different generation of Fringe theater attendees.
That being said, there is an interesting component to the performance that is both very necessary but – at the same time – extremely puzzling, which is the “[juxtaposition] of the present, the past and the imagined.” Writer and director Thomas Stephens uses this technique to quickly give the audience the history of the shared experiences between the characters, but the performance moves so rapidly between these moments that being able to intensely focus is a necessity for making it through the first five of the seven acts. However, realizing that this potentially is an issue, the lights quickly dim to alert you to the transitions.
Once the groundwork was laid and the climax of the play arrived, I found myself really enjoying the last two scenes, in which the interaction between the characters seems most genuine and the acting most fluid. Unfortunately, getting to that point took a lot of effort in trying to piece together the addition of some weird elements to the story line, as well as sitting through some prolonged dialogue with a lot of profanity that seemed a bit out of place with an older generation (this is Fringe after all, so maybe that is why it was included).
The characters share a good chemistry, especially between Byron (played by Robert Gray) and Mary Jane (played by Carol Ann Fuller). However, as I said earlier, much of the humor is based on corny stories and “laugh at your own joke” moments that are reminiscent of when older relatives have a bit too much wine during the holidays.
See it if: You have an AARP membership or look forward to hearing the same old stories told over and over again by aging relatives.
Skip it if: You have ADHD and haven’t taken your Ritalin.