As luck would have it.. and it was a lucky mistake.. I arrived for the aforementioned Loose Underware at the New American Theatre two hours early! Who should appear, but 6th Act artistic director and all around good guy, Matthew Leavitt. He invited me to his 'time-killer' "The Scorpion and The Frog" that was just about to go up in the NAT's black box. What the heck?
The beauty of the Hollywood Fringe Festival is that it's a shotgun blast for theatre that makes no bones about its simple approach and out of the dozens of little shows popping up with pals and afficianados lining up to pay a couple of bucks with the hope of finding a diamond in the rough, I joined in. It's tough to review these shows fairly because they seldom present fully produced work. "The Scorpion and The Frog" is no exception.
Picture, if you will.. a blank space. A cardboard sun shines on a 'river' of blue flowing from a cardboard river bank.
Oh wait.. there's this big guy (Thomas Bigley.. imagine that coincidence!) with an eye patch playing a cardboard ukulele while Matt plays an actual guitar and the Big Guy sings a sea chanty.. sort of. Stuff happens.
If playwright, Spencer Green, had been recently to see Waiting for Godot or the terrific Happy Days at the Taper, he may have come under the spell of Samuel Beckett and thus, taking the story of the frog and the scorpion or the scorpion and the frog to heart as an exercise in futility to create what he calls a 'time-killer' seems reasonable. The beauty of this piece, directed by Matthew Leavitt is it's complex simplicity. As the Scorpion we meet the cuter than cute Christine Sage. Playing the cute card.. well, cute and a little hot, actually. Scorpion encounters Frog (Alex Parker) wearing a bowler hat that immediately made me think of Godot.. He may be cute to girls, but not so much to me.
However!! the familiar story that Green unfolds though we know the story well, as it unfolds, is really fun to watch. "I can't help it. It's my nature." Glub, blub, glubbb.
Lights up.. Christine now appears as Frog in her cute little hat while Scorpion/Alex goes all smooth and cool: denim sport coat sleeves rolled up and cool... coaxing a ride to the other side of the river. The sometimes existential exchange as we go back and forth a couple of more times is, indeed.. a "time-killer" but totally enjoyable as the inevitable story unfolds ... again. Watching the actors manipulate and in finality succumb to the nature of Scorpion and the inevitable naivete of Frog is food for thought as well as focused and dedicated timing and fun.
Bigley has a deal with Penny Peyser. Now, just forget I mentioned Penny.. Okay?
Dedicated performances with slight tongue in cheek that will make you laugh and nod in accord as we witness the sinking of the good ship ScorpiFrog or FroPio. I loved it. I can't help it... well, you know.
Parking can be a hassle. Arrive early and schmooze with the folks who love new theatre.
The Scorpion and The Frog: A time-killer
by Spencer Green
June 27, 2018 and June 28, 2018 at 7:15PM
June 29, 2018 at 2PM
New American Theatre
1312 N. Wilton
Hollywood, CA 90028
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