JTT at the Fringe

The plot summary on the Fringe website for A Mivkah is completely different from the plot summary on the back of the show’s postcard. Neither come very close to describing the show, which is like a bad Robert Altman film. There’s so much overlapping dialogue that it’s impossible to tell what’s happening. Combine that with the fact that one actress plays the mother of all three unrelated main male characters without any type of costume or vocal change, and you’ve got a mighty confusing hour in the dark. Max Jenkins plays Jonathan Taylor Thomas of Home Improvement and Lion King fame. Now a washed up child star at 25, JTT (as the girls used to call him) is desperately looking for a comeback. He finds his calling in the world of confessional solo performance, using his despondent friend Alan to test his new material. Alan has problems of his own. He talks to the ghost of his dead grandmother Nana and the ghost of his dead childhood love Ben.

All the characters walk with unclear purpose in carefully choreographed patterns across the stage. Some dialogue occurs when actors are backstage behind the curtains. More often, dialogue happens on top of the rolls of old carpet and wooden doors that make up the set. At one point, Jessica Arnold as Nana delivers a monologue from atop the door as another actor with his back to the audience moves the platform for obscure dramatic effect.

The whole production feels like a bad experimental show you did in college, the type of thing where you went out more for the party and the alcohol afterward than for the actual show itself. This is a shame because over the hill child stars are a hot topic in American culture right now. They demand a good play, but this certainly isn’t it.

The overall aesthetic is aided by some excellent original music created by Chris Moscato. Cellist Christine de Frece and violinist Danielle Turano add dramatic tension to the muddle of a story. They also laugh at all the jokes from their miniature orchestra pit, creating a far more enjoyable impression than anything else onstage.

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