Monday, August 23, 2010

FRINGE: The Great Galvani

The Great Galvani promises "the highest of high-quality acts," so it opens with the Bearded Lady (Kevlyn Hayes) and her ruminations on appearance, then shifts to Galvani (H. B. Ward), who proceeds to conjure up some high-quality feces (out of his ass, naturally). It's a giant misdirect, as is the way he summons P. T. Barnum into his own body for a monologue, and if the show were longer than a half-hour, the clever philosophical "edutainment" that writer/director Shawn Reddy sneaks in under that hammy cover might really pack a punch. (This show is only part of a quartet on "the intricacies of self-torture.") Even still, it calls to mind the rich minimalism of Will Eno's Thom Pain, what with the wry romanticism, the unavoidable habit to "love what will not last." Galvani's father issues and memories of biological experiments on frogs mix neatly together, and they're as much about nothing as they are about everything. More simply put: "Everything is monumental," he says, having just set up a little parable about the banning of pitchfork rebellions today leading to the wiretapping of tomorrow. On a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being "Hocus schmocus" and 5 being "Mind-boggling good," The Great Galvani gets a 3.5.

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