NAN is a cis woman actor/maker who is truthfully pretty overwhelmed with the garden of earthly delights that is Fringe.

ESPIE is a queer mixed director and producer

 

NAN

So, pockets?

ESPIE

I was coming off of a really stressful weekend and was feeling pretty exhausted and overwhelmed.  I’ve enjoyed Tribe of Fools’ shows in a past and was looking for some Grade A escapism.  

NAN

I’ve only seen one ToF show in the past (Antihero) and was excited to see some rad fight/physical theatre. I was also there on a Saturday night and they had a completely sold out house who ADORED the show and were crazy vocal, and that was lovely. What did you think about the lights, sound, set, costume, etc?

ESPIE

I was there on Monday and had a similar experience with the audience.

I really loved how the set was used (designed by Peter Smith) and I thought the shadows were super fun!  The blinds lightly blowing in the wind were very pleasing.

NAN

Agreed! When I first walked in I was not very impressed with the set, but then I realized that it served the purpose of giving a lot of shadow spaces to work with and having many places for actors to pop out of as well. And it’s got several levels, which is great. Might have benefited from a little distressing, but very economical. And I really enjoyed the use of the high nook in the Bluver Theater as another shadow space

 

ESPIE

I’ve seen so many shows in the Bluver and I was really excited to see that space utilized in an entirely new way.  I thought the lights (designed by Robin Stamey) and sound (designed by Damien Figueras) worked well in conversation with one another and definitely helped create a very fun noir atmosphere, though I found when actors came too far downstage I lost their faces.

NAN

I really enjoyed their especially “noir” ish ensembles the most– Lowell’s high waisted pants and ribbon belt, Bradley, the whole Shadow ensemble– and the rest of the design, while not really noir at all, served the purpose for character.

 

ESPIE

Yeah, I thought it was particularly successful in highlighting that we were playing with the collision of the noir genre and Fishtown “hipsters” (I honestly don’t know what that word means anymore), but, having lived in Fishtown for the past 2 years, the costumes for Claire (Jenna Kuerzi) and James Aimsley (Joe Ahmed) were definitely outfits I saw walking down Frankford Ave. on a daily basis  

NAN

For sure. I think both the “noir” and the “hipster” looks were successful– I guess I was just a little bit lost as to where or how the two were supposed to intersect. But I guess it was also just that I came in expecting a fusion of the two (Fishtown Noir isn’t the title of the play but that’s what I’ve been hearing it referred to) and it seemed more like they coexisted thematically but didn’t really merge.

 

ESPIE

I actually think Bradley (played by Zachary Chiero) represented a blending of the two worlds really well.  Though, I was hungry to see both of those worlds merge in one of their dance/fight sequences – particularly when Claire and Lowell (Tara Demmy) met.  

NAN

Yeah, agreed. I would have love to see worlds collide more. In a similar vein, I was also initially pretty confused about the introduction of the simulation glasses fantasy sequences– like the first bunny sequence? I loved it, but it felt like it came out of nowhere.

ESPIE

I enjoyed how nonsensical the bunnies seemed at first, and, for me, because they established that the glasses allowed you to act out your fantasies at the very beginning of the show with the opening number, it wasn’t a huge jump.  What I didn’t necessarily see, though, were the differences in the “reality settings” that were mentioned with the glasses.  As the reality setting got higher, was it supposed to get scarier?  Because other then that, I didn’t see much of a difference between the Level 7 that was seen at the top of the show and the Level 9 that was seen later.

NAN

Good point. What did you think about the direction?

 

ESPIE

I thought where the direction really shone was in the stylistic choices – notably the creative use of shadow – which makes sense because the director (Peter Smith) was the set designer.  The moment when Shadow (Kyle Yackoski) grabs the virtual reality glasses from the nook was particularly creative. I don’t usually see those roles doubled and, given the physical nature of Tribe of Fool’s work, having the director and set designer be the same person made a lot of sense.

I think there were several moments in the noir world that I wanted the humor to be highlighted by the characters’ acting in an increasingly ridiculous way as opposed to other characters commenting on the ridiculousness from an outside perspective. For example, when Lowell was directly addressing the audience she could have invaded and manipulated the space more fully and ridiculously as opposed to Bradley continuously having to point out that Lowell kept breaking from their conversation.  Additionally there were some bits of blocking that happened on the floor – Lowell’s scene where she was laying out newspaper clippings and when James Aimsley was on the medicine ball- that I could not see at all.

NAN

Yeah, I also couldn’t see anything that happened on or near the floor. For me, I think the dance numbers were the highlight of the show. The number in which Shadow steals the virtual reality glasses especially. Much credit to Chiero for the choreography, it was a real pleasure to watch.

 

ESPIE

Agreed.  I go to Tribe of Fools for the dance and fight choreography and they always deliver on that.  I also appreciate that the humor of world remained consistently woven into the choreography.   Tribe of Fools does a great job of movement and dance accessible to audiences that might find it high brow otherwise.  

NAN

For sure. Their particular brand of humor was integrated really beautifully throughout. I also appreciated the fact that they had a woman lead detective and it didn’t have to be commented on. And how utterly normal Bradley’s queerness was. That said I would have loved more people of color in the show. Joe Ahmed is fantastic and I’d like them to hire more POC.

 

ESPIE

There could have been more representation with the design team as well.  I know Joe was an understudy last year and am curious if understudy casts is a way that this group works to make a more inclusive ensemble.  

NAN

It’s certainly a lot to expect an actor to do without knowing their work beforehand, I can see that.

Anything else you’d like to add?

ESPIE

Yes, huge props to all of the performers involved for doing some incredibly demanding physical work while giving really charismatic performances.  I thought every character, especially given the often referential humor, could have easily fallen into a place that was one-note, but the actors were all able ground their characters in really realistic ways.  I appreciate the Caitlin Weigel’s writing offered full fledged characters which doesn’t always happen in genre pieces.  I found that everyone was so likable, and  it definitely added towards making the ending more deliciously complicated, which I think is usually necessary in a piece that deals with the perils of technology.

Overall, I had a damn good time.

NAN

Completely agreed.

 

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