Blaxploitation, written by a white guy -- it isn't just for Quentin Tarantino anymore. Orlando writer/producer Al Pergande (Go Left Right, The Mayor of Orange Avenue) returns to Fringe with an idea nearly as outrageous as the title of his last show, Big Swinging Dick's Topless Bar Presents Naked Drag Queens Farting.
Officer Julian "Chocolate Thunder" Moss (Valenski Sylvain), a Shaft stand-in in a faux-fur pimp hat, starts off the show being chewed out by his boss (Eric Kuritzky) for losing yet another patrol car. Moss's superflu 70's schtick isn't showing results on the street anymore, leaving him looking like a "low-rent Lady Gaga," so he's reassigned to investigating Google-sponsored Internet kiddie porn.
Reluctantly paired with tech-savvy new partner Julia Ann "White Lighnting" Thistlebloom (Jackie Pitts), Moss pursues Germanic crime kingpin Mr. Big (Erik Branch) to his requisite underground lair, where he mentors minion interns (Larry Stallings) when not plotting world domination or petting his plush penguin. Between scenes, the Expositionettes girl group (Katrina Richards, Jennifer Becher, Dayana Rincon) grooves on Motown hits with rewritten lyrics ("Stop in the name of crime, before they break your ass"), several of which go on a stanza too long.
As Moss, the charismatic Sylvain has a way with ghettotastic one-liners ("If I wanted to shoot that whitey hooker, she's be jerking off Jesus by now.") when he isn't quoting cliched quips like "I'm too old for this shit," while Branch's baddie is memorably maniacal, if mostly unintelligible. Unfortunately, the preview performance I attended was beset by technical miscues, which the cast handled with good humor. Snafus aside, director Desmond Flynn needs to give pacing and cue pickup a thorough polishing before the premiere. Stuffed with single-entendre and slapstick violence, this sloppy spoof is silly enough to raise some laughs, though perhaps not as many as needed to fill its alotted hour.
Note: This review is based on a preview performance that the press was invited to attend.
Chocolate Thunder & White Lightning
Arfnotz Productions (Orlando, FL)
Rating: G14 (Adult Language and content)
Run Time: 60 minutes
Genre: Comedy, Musical, Blaxploitation, Parody
Sat, May 18 2013, 5:30p.m. - 6:30p.m.
Mon, May 20 2013, 10:15p.m. - 11:15p.m.
Wed, May 22 2013, 8:15p.m. - 9:15p.m.
Sat, May 25 2013, 3:30p.m. - 4:30p.m.