Saturday, August 11, 2012

Fringe Festival 2012: Rip

Day: 4

Show: 12

Title: Rip

By: Dovetail Theatre Company

Created by: David Darrow and Kara Davidson

Location: Theatre Garage

Summary: Based on the short story "Rip Van Winkle" by Washington Irving, Rip is a retelling of the classic American folk tale with new original music drawing from American folk and rock music. In this version of the story, Rip is a working man in the 1950s who decides to quit his unfulfilling job in the hopes of seeing the world. But his wife is not on board with this plan, as they have many children to support. Rip goes into the woods with his trusty dog, falls asleep, dreams of meeting the explorer Henry Hudson and his crew, and then wakes up to find himself old and the world changed.

Highlights: The story is a classic and wonderfully retold by playwright Kara Davidson, who's also adorable as the tail-wagging enthusiastic dog. Billy Balmer gives a great performance as the title character, an unfulfilled working man who longs for more. When he wakes from his dream, there's no outward change in terms of clothing or the traditional beard, but you can tell that Rip has aged years just in the way Billy slowly and painfully moves his body. But the most memorable part of the show for me is the fantastic music, composed by David Darrow (who also puts on an English accent to play Hudson). It has that great folky Americana sound that I love, with a bit of rock thrown in as well (a rock song about the Northwest Passage? Strange but brilliant). If there were a soundtrack available, I would have already bought it and been obsessively listening to it for the past few days. In the unlikely event that this acting thing doesn't work out for David, he can always fall back on a career as a singer/songwriter/guitar player. I'll be the first in line to buy his debut album. But back to the show - Rip is not a traditional musical in the sense that characters don't break out into song in the middle of a scene. Rather, it's a series of spoken scenes alternating with musical interludes that are quite separate from the main action, but further explore the idea of the scene. The awesome band is made up of David and the curly-haired brothers (I assume) Ben and Jonas Yela, who play a variety of acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin, percussion, and trumpet. The actors occasionally step out of the scene to join the band in a song. The one fault of the show is that I wanted to see more. The show ends when Rip wakes up, but I wanted to see what happened next. This really feels like Act I, and I humbly suggest that the creators write and present Act II at next year's Fringe, to be followed by an eventual production of the piece as a whole - with a soundtrack available for purchase, thank you!

Read more of my fringe fest reflections...