I'LL CONFESS I WAS SURPRISED TO SEE A SHOW by a first-time Fringe company in the Thrust -- it can be a brutal space if you're not working a large crowd. That said, the folks of OT Pro-Ductions seem to have the Fringe formula figured out:
A is a best-selling Fringe show,
B is a high-culture concept, and
C is a low-culture concept.
Robot Lincoln: The Revengeance is not a perfect show, certainly -- it's choppy, it's sloppy, and boy howdy could the pacing be tightened down. Particularly in the case of the sound design -- there are several awkward, drawn-out moments, where the cast seems to be waiting for the sound cues before proceeding, and that's near-fatal to a breakneck farce like this. Most damning, perhaps, is the fact that it's a forty-five minute show with what I suspect is only about thirty minutes of solid material.
There's shining moments, as well: I was greatly amused by the various robotic political figures (Jackson and Jefferson are tied as my favorites), as well as a note-perfect performance by Libby Slater. Her surreal musical number, in particular, was a standout. And I wasn't a huge fan of the songs, for the most part; they seemed to coast on the joke of how weird it was to have a song happening, which is funny but not hugely sustainable.
Honestly, though, none of the above really matters, because this show totally won me the hell over by the fifteen-minute mark despite the flaws. There's something gleefully subversive about the whole thing -- not because what they're doing is so daring or experimental, but because there's a "Jesus-I-can't-believe-we're-actually-doing-this-onstage" sort of vibe that's appealing to me. It is silly, utterly so: this show is deeply, fervently, intensely committed to being silly, which is really the only possible way this could work. I love the fact that there's no explanation for why the hell any of this is happening (because, really, what explanation could possibly make sense?).
Yes, it's profoundly unpolished. Yes, it could be much tighter, and more consistently funny. But this is after-the-fact analysis -- both of those observations are true, and neither of them stopped me from snickering like a schoolboy at Robot Washington's "I cannot tell a lie: I'M GOING TO FUCKING KILL YOU."
Man, I'm laughing just remembering this. Yes -- this is one that's definitely worth catching.
Related performance details:
Robot Lincoln: The Revengeance (The Musical) by OT Pro-Ductions is on stage at U of M Rarig Center Thrust in Minneapolis. Shows are Friday, 8/5 (8:30 pm); Sunday, 8/7 (1 pm); Monday, 8/8 (8:30 pm); Tuesday, 8/9 (5:30 pm); Saturday, 8/13 (8:30 pm).
Check back regularly throughout the Fringe Festival for more short reviews on mnartists.org, sent in from our intrepid performance critics on the scene.
About the author: phillip low is a playwright and poet, storyteller and mime, theatre critic and libertarian activist. He has won acclaim at such varied venues as the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, Spirit in the House, FoolFest, and the DC, Indianapolis, Iowa, and Kansas City Fringe Festivals -- even as far as Melbourne, Australia. At the 2007 Minnesota Fringe, his one-man show Descendant of Dragons was the bestselling show in its venue and awarded a coveted Fringe Encore slot, while in 2009 The Rise of General Arthur was nominated for Best Spoken Word Performance by FringeFamous. He is a co-founder of the Rockstar Storytellers and founder and producer of Maximum Verbosity. He has his own show in the Fringe Festival this year, Camelot is Crumbling; he's also assisting with the writing and direction of Minnesota Middle Finger with Ben San Del, as well as performing in Macbeth: The Video Game Remix with Theatre Arlo.