It can sometimes be mentally sound, or even therapeutic to step back and look at a sticky situation before making any rash decisions regarding it. Especially when the situation includes a promiscuous blow up doll, golf ball sized hail raining down on a priest, and unplanned pregnancy. Meet FringeNext’s Blown Up, a story of love, heartbreak, and total absurdity.
It’s a day like any other when Woman (Katie Hoffecker) comes home to find her husband (Zak Kelley) entangled with a lady he calls Rosie, who just so happens to be a lifeless blowup doll. This affair sends both members of the happy couple apart from one another and into therapy, where they each begin to relive their past life experiences, each more ridiculous than the last. Nevertheless, the squabbling continues, until someone reaches the breaking point.
Underneath all of this absurdity is an attempt to show how ridiculous normal people can be in a quarrel. How people tend to let their morals and mind slip away while they are in a disagreement. By the time the Man tells the Woman enough is enough, both have forgotten why they were fighting in the fist place, and Roxie just stares into blankness.
As young writers, Katie and Zak have yet to experience the ups and downs of adulthood, let alone marriage. Their challenge was simply to create a story about adults in a dysfunctional marriage without any first-hand experience themselves in dealing with such issues. The duo pulled off this feat profoundly, with a script that offered both believable dialogue between the disgruntled couple and tons of humor.
Both actors performed at a professional level. Hoffecker’s ability to vary her temper onstage as the fighting progressed, but keep her energy on high at all times was complemented by Kelley’s portrayal of a sarcastic tired man who has just had enough. Although the acting became a bit repetitive after a while, it was nevertheless consistently enthralling. The two were hilarious at all times, whether verbally bashing the other or reminiscing about some wild antic.
Blown Up is a part of Cincinnati Fringe Festival’s effort to bring high school artists into the limelight of the theater scene. All aspects were completely student engineered and driven, from script to stage. Upcoming performances run Friday, June 1st at 9:00, and Saturday, June 2nd at 7:30 at SCPA ‘s Black Box Theater.
Review by Matt Ruehlman