In 2010, Dog Powered Robot was but a three-minute diversion in a group show called the Creative Mind Experiment, in which multiple artists each gave brief performances inspired by the same song. Evan Miga, proprietor of downtown Orlando marketing and design firm Miga Me, created the gag act to break up the monotony of the more high-minded, serious pieces in the show – for his bit, he built a robot costume made of cardboard and installed a little window in its chest from which his Pomeranian dog, Fisher, could poke his head. The robot spent about three minutes stomping around, destroying a “cardboard city” to its own Dog Powered Robot theme song, while Fisher flashed his giddy-looking doggy grin at the mayhem. Clearly, this dog was meant to power a robot.
Two years later, DPR is a must-see Fringe act – it’s an hour long, it’s got a whole cast of characters, a (ridiculous) storyline, a creative team and even an Orlando Weekly Best of Orlando award under its belt.
I missed last year’s production, Dog Powered Robot and the History of the Future, which was the talk of the Fringe (and the winner of the Best Fringe Show in our Best of Orlando readers poll last year), so I made it a point to catch a performance of Dog Powered Robot and the Subsequent Adventure this time around.
It was an early performance – 5:15 p.m. – which made it popular among the Fringesters with kids in tow. Which could explain why this particular show seemed lighter in innuendo and edgy humor than I had anticipated. The highlights reels from last year’s show seemed rife with subversive inside jokes – a Hawkingsbot 9000 riffed on Steven Hawking, Lollibot made coy references to destroying the audience, Dog Powered Robot destroyed cardboard city – but aside from some visual gags about a shake weight and some har-dee-har-hars about a poop chute, the whole production was squeaky clean. Which doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun – it was pretty much a ridiculously good time, and a completely absurd diversion from reality. Particularly on a Thursday afternoon.
Still, the stuff that was most appealing, clever and entertaining were the parts that probably went over the kids’ heads – pink candy-dispensing robot Lollibot’s self-absorbed narcissism, Scraperella’s teenage-girl frustrations, the overall low-rent nature of the production, which includes an overhead projector and simple illustrations to move the action forward, with the very-obvious help of a visible hand that manipulates little cutouts. So even if you find the script to be cleaner than your usual taste in Fringe fair, it’s complete camp hilarity. A don't-miss Fringe delight.
Miga Me – Orlando, Fla.
Saturday, May 26, 1:15 p.m., in the Orange Venue
Sunday, May 27, 3:15 p.m., in the Orange Venue
Price: $11 plus Fringe Button
Discounts: Anyone dressed as a robot
Rating: Family friendly
Highlights video from last year's performance: