Thursday, August 18, 2011

Fringe Festival: "Robot Lincoln: The Revengeance (The Musical)" by OT Pro-Ductions at the U of M Rarig Center Thrust

I have to admit it, Robot Lincoln: The Revengeance (The Musical) was the one Fringe show I saw that I didn't quite get.  It's a fun and creative idea - a musical parody of Abraham Lincoln and other past presidents as robots - and I do love re-imagining American Presidents in bizarre, crazy, fun musicals.  But it was a little too weird and scattered for me.  Still, it was interesting to see with a few amusing moments and great performances.

After his assassination, Lincoln is brought back to life by Uncle Sam(antha).  But John Wilkes Booth kills him again, with an army of past presidents who have also been brought back to life as robots.  Fortunately Lincoln is able to be rebooted and brought back to life again, and Uncle Sam provides him with his own army of robot presidents.  Some of the robot presidents are quite clever with fun and expressive costumes.  They all have special powers appropriate to their character; Jack Kennedy's power is that he causes women to swoon.  The battle between the robots is campy fun.  The robots eventually make peace and join together to fight a common enemy - a robot Genghis Khan (aka Robo-Khan), and Lincoln and Booth become friends.

There were some great performances, particularly Jason Garton as an almost sympathetic John Wilkes Booth, Libby Slater as a splendidly patriotic Uncle Sam(antha) and a loopy Mary Todd Lincoln, and David Wasylik as the formidable but beatable enemy Robo-Khan.  The songs are fun and original, but the band was canned.  The thrust stage at the Rarig Center seems like a little too big of a space for the piece (the balconies were closed), but that's not their fault.  A clever premise that needs a little more work.