Theater Mini-Review: Beth Marshall Presents Paul Strickland's "Add Songs, Stir" at Shakes



Paul Strickland appears in "Add Songs, Stir" this weekend at Orlando Shakes.
  • Paul Strickland appears in "Add Songs, Stir" this weekend at Orlando Shakes.

Last night, Beth Marshall Presents kicked off the 2012 leg of their company's current season at Orlando Shakes with Paul Strickland's new one-man show Add Songs, Stir. If you go expecting more of the clever observational stand-up comedy that made Paul's Orlando Fringe shows A Brighter Shade of Blue and Any Title That Works big hits, you are in for a surprise. Strickland's latest work has an eerie, ambiguous tone completely unlike his earlier shows, which left me admiring his talents but oddly unsettled.

A lakeless town builds a glass-bottom boat, then creates a flooded fake city filled with moving mannequins for tourists to float above. A man unintentionally commits suicide while trying to tear out his own beard. A woman falls desperately in love with her living room window. These, and a handful of equally unconventional anecdotes, swirl around together in a fragmentary stew of tangentially-related topics. Between monologues, Strickland is plagued by a ghostly recording of his own words, which he dispels by playing a half-dozen songs – 3 of which are witty originals – displaying dexterous fingering and an unexpectedly fine high tenor (though the falsetto sometimes starts to slip away from him).

At one point, Paul references “an evening of seemingly meaningful words,” and while the literal intent of this work can be difficult to tease out, the meaningfulness of his intensity is unmistakable. It's clearly a work-in-progress that could stand some shaping (there needs to be a clearer climax to the emotional arc) but it's exciting to see Strickland stretch beyond his comedy comfort zone into a more personal space.

[Edit: This article was originally posted with an incorrect show title in the headline (though it was correct in the body). Oops!]

Beth Marshall Presents: Paul Strickland “Add Songs, Stir”
Lowndes Shakespeare Center
Goldman Theater
Jan 19-21 @ 8:30pm (Jan 22 @ 2:30pm)

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.