Orlando Fringe 2017 review: 'The Unrepentant Necrophile'



Last year, New York's Coldharts won my heart (and multiple critics' choice awards) from the very first moments of their charmingly chilling Edgar Allen. This year, Katie Hartman and Nick Ryan return with a show that is every bit as unconventional and uncompromising as their last, but a little harder to fall in love with at first sight.

The Unrepentant Necrophile is an aggressive, in-your-face punk rock opera inspired by notorious necrophiliac mortician Karen Greenlee. Hartman, slinging an electric guitar and Joan Jett-black wig, plays Greenlee as a tortured soul who is desperate for connection, but rebuffs the advances of her similarly inclined co-worker (Ryan) in favor of romantic camping trips with her dearly departed (Nate Gebhard, who does some mean drumming despite being dead on a slab).

As a punk rock experience, the show explodes with all the anarchistic passion you could ask for, but that's also its downfall as a drama. It's a good thing the lyrics are repeated over and over in each song, because the aggressively amplified screaming is almost completely unintelligible. The plot's pacing is also somewhat uneven, with a long patient build-up leading to a hurried climax after only 45 minutes.

Even though I didn't find it as instantly accessible as Edgar Allen, Hartman's volcanic performance makes this uncomfortable material compelling. The subject matter is as icky as it gets, and the Coldharts are unapologetic in their eerily erotic depiction of Greenlee's ritualistic predilections. If you are seeking the most disturbing musical of the Fringe (The Other Woman excepted) you won't repent seeing this one.

The Unrepentant Necrophile
Green Venue
Monday, May 22, 10:30 PM
Wednesday, May 24, 9:00 PM
Friday, May 26, 8:45 PM
Saturday, May 27, 11:59 PM
Sunday, May 28, 6:45 PM