Seeing a Fringe show is always risky business. The only thing you can be sure of is that you’re going to give up about an hour of your life. Michael Wanzie’s Celebrity Squares adds an extra note of certainty: Somebody in the audience is going home $89 richer rather than $11 poorer.
Yes, a genuine $100 cash prize awaits the winning volunteer contestant in Wanzie’s gay-bar sendup of The Hollywood Squares. As for the rest of us
well, we’re winners too, since we get to watch and listen to the antics of nine wickedly impersonated celebrity panelists. Rebecca Fisher’s Sarah Palin is a particular, pageant-walkin’ hoot, but the show is stolen by Mark Baratelli’s Judy Garland, who alternates between issuing surreal, stream-of-consciousness answers to the most mundane of questions and attempting to maim herself on the show’s multilevel set.
Meanwhile, Wanzie -- who is Orlando’s Peter Marshall, to a degree almost no one fully comprehends -- sits in the host’s chair, valiantly struggling to remember which answer gets credited to which player.
There’s real unpredictability here. In the performance I attended, a strong showing was made by a contestant who not only displayed near-total ignorance of the rules of tic tac toe, but spoke not a word of English to boot. (Hand to God.)
Celebrity Squares is old-school Fringe silliness by performers who have been slinging the drag gags and dick jokes for longer than they or I would care to admit. As Abe Lincoln said, people who like this sort of thing will find that this is the sort of thing they like. And as Wanzie might cheerfully add, people who don’t like this sort of thing can go fuck themselves.
Wanzie Presents - Orlando, FL
Friday 18 May; at 9:30pm in the Orange
Saturday 19 May; at 11:30pm in the Orange
Sunday 20 May; at 7:15pm in the Orange
Tuesday 22 May; at 10:30pm in the Orange
Thursday 24 May; at 9:30pm in the Orange
Friday 25 May; at 11:30pm in the Orange
Saturday 26 May; at 5:30pm in the Orange
+ Fringe Button (good for entire Fringe)