Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing

They don’t call them “fringe” festivals for nothing. With titles like I Heart Hamas: And Other Things I’m Afraid to Tell You, the 2011 Hollywood Fringe looks packed with theatrical land mines. One misstep and…kabloowie!

Take the LA-based comedy trio Sound & Fury’s Spaceship Man, a simply ghastly 70 minutes of self-indulgence that makes water-boarding look like a viable option. And consider that, with fringe shows set in alternative spaces, that can mean there is no escape for the desperate theater-leaver–except right across the stage in the middle of the performance. If you’re the polite type, then you are trapped. So be forewarned.

The publicity for the show claims it’s a sci-fi spoof “ in the signature Sound & Fury style: Vaudeville-Nouveau! Full of song, silliness and sex…ual innuendo!” If only.

It’s interesting to note that the critical raves cited in the group’s publicity come solely from Canadian, British or Australian news sources, which might indicate that S&F can’t buy a thrill where American critics are concerned. Add me to that list.

What poses as broad Python-esque—or maybe Beyond the Fringe-like—humor gets short-circuited early on and devolves quickly into a witless search for meaning within a dopily structured scenario based somewhat on the geeky clichés of Star Trek, Dr.Who, etc.

You keep praying for the end, but it never comes, as the individual players return, time and again, to deliver windy, soul-sucking speeches.

The good news is that the June 19th, 11 p.m., performance at Artworks Theatre & Studio, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd., was the group’s swansong with this piece. On to something better, mates. Anything, really.

Comments

  1. Joey Melnen says:

    This can’t be the same show I was sitting in last night. My friends and I decided to see this show on a whim and were laughing from outside the theatre until we left the show and i find it safe to say that we weren’t the only ones. It was my feeling that a large majority of the audience was laughing with us and having a good time. If this reviewer simply didn’t “get” or understand that style of show they were doing that is one thing , but to completely ignore that nearly the ENTIRE audience was having a great time is a travesty and comes off as being a bad critic.
    Speaking for myself and the rest of the audience that was cheering…CHEERING for an encore at the end, I was not praying for the show to end and will gladly seek them out again.
    J.M.

  2. Monet Clark says:

    I have to say I’m actually a little angry that the “professional” reviewer up there Mr. Brady is paid to give his opinion, which in my opinion gives critics a bad name.

    I also happened upon the show and had never heard of S&F before, and they won me over. The show was brilliant, witty, and yes I was at the 11 p.m. showing as well and the audience, myself and my boyfriend included, were laughing till the end. I was pleased with the whole entertaining performance and walked out elated that I’d just had a splendiferous night. The puns and jokes were spot on and what Mr. Brady calls the “dopily structured scenario” made me giggle with delight, specifically due to its simpleness of structure. It added humour to the overall feel of S&F’s creation. The plots farcicality worked, especially when coupled with such precise timing. The simple and inexpensive props, like green nylon sleeping bags for huge slugs, were carried by the sophisticated talent of the actors. I thought the monologues were clever not “soul-sucking”.

    As to Canadian, British, and Australian critics somehow being inferior to American ones, please American’s often just don’t get it. If you’re American and funny to the Brits you’ve hit a home run.

    And one more note to Mr. Brady my boyfriend and I were getting our tickets when you came into the box office. My boyfriend turned around to you behind us and said ‘hello, and how are you this evening’ and you had an extremely distasteful, sourpuss attitude, which I was a bit taken aback by then. Next you went on to make an issue of your ‘press status’ with the man working the box office, rudely making him wait on you before he was done with us (and thus we had to wait till you were done with him, to get our credit card receipt).

    Point is it seems you had a bad attitude coming into the show, which carried with you into your reviewing and writing of the S&F piece, because from the sound of the pleased audience by the end of the performance (yes we were cheering), you are the only one walking out the door that felt the way you did. Maybe you’re just not hip enough to have gotten the piece. In Los Angeles the cutting edge’s sword is a little sharper than in parts of the country.

    M.C.

  3. All I can think is that you aren’t a sci-fi fan and didn’t get most of the jokes?

    I saw the show at the Sunday afternoon performance, and howled with laughter the whole way through—as did the rest of the audience. It was fast-paced, energetic, supremely silly. Yes, they have occasional self-indulgent riffs, but I find those charming and very much part of a Vaudeville-style comedy.

    But I can allow for differing opinions on shows. It is possible you did catch all the hilarious references and just did not find them hilarious. Fine— but in that case, a more detailed write-up would be appreciated.

    Simply saying that a show is “ghastly” and “witless” and “dopily structured” and complaining about the theater space doesn’t really qualify as a valid critique, in my opinion. If you hate something, justify it. Give your readers the courtesy of a well-considered position. Compare and contrast it to better work you’ve seen in the same genre and style, talk about specific elements of the show, mention particular jokes that you found lacking—anything to give credibility to your rant.

    Otherwise, you just come across as a humorless amateur blogger and not as an actual critic.

  4. Lily Ross says:

    I just found this http://www.nashvillescene.com/nashville/in-the-heights/Event?oid=2340081

    Apparently this isn’t the first time this critic has rudely dismissed good work and offended audiences who disagreed. However, in his review of the 4 time Tony award winning play ‘In the Heights’, published in the Nashville Scene he wasn’t just rude, but also blatantly racist. Read his review. Its simply unacceptable and unprofessional and he should have been fired by the Scene. It was flooded with no less than 60 comments by offended readers who vehemently disagreed with his critique and were disgusted with his racism and ignorance. He actually said this about a plays whose themes revolve around home and family:

    “In other words, an excuse to employ dynamic youthful minority performers who dance and sing and holler to a lot of salsa music and groove on lyrics about Latin loving and partying”.

    Its not even intelligent criticism. See the full review and by contrast, the intelligent responses it evoked.

    In short if this lugubrious, vitriolic human being shows up at your show and trashes it, it probably means your play was way to hopeful, hilarious, sincere, upbeat, hip (I agree with you M.C.) and/or non-white for his negative sorry A** to bear.