Fringe 2018 review: 'Hello' makes a plea for simple human connection

by

comment
hello_4x4_preview.png
Bartholomew Jones (Chris Crawford) bursts out of a Chicago coffeehouse and into our brains, bringing time and space to a standstill so we can enjoy his hyper-verbal internal monologue mooning over the muscular barista who’s left a flirty heart on his latte cup. Initially, it appears that we’re in for a lighthearted, campy comedy along the lines of Spalding Gray as performed by Sean Hayes. But Barry’s story swiftly takes a dark turn into existential insecurity, social isolation and suicidal ideation.

Hello, which is written and directed by John Mark Jernigan, is an ambitious and affecting work that somehow manages to combine social commentary on gay male misogyny, white Christian privilege and Trump-induced depression, with geeky references to superhero cinema and celebrity audience participation (sit at one of the onstage cocktail tables to get in on the action). Barry’s shattered state of mind is reflected in a deliberately unconventional dramatic structure, as we’re barraged by memories of his dead mother and ex-boyfriend, but despite the dissonance I found myself sympathizing with his mental anguish, as well as his profession as an underpaid theater critic.



Crawford’s fourth wall-wrecking performance – sensitively underscored by Anthony R. Smith on acoustic guitar – could have become a pretentious self-pity party in the hands of a lesser actor, but his healthy helping of self-deprecating humor helps cushion the crushing emotional whiplash. Even if the plot points aren’t all neatly resolved in the ugly-crying climax, the heart-wrenching humanism expressed by Hello’s plea for simple connection with strangers perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the Fringe Festival.

Hello
Intrepid Stage, Orlando, FL
13 & Up – Strong Language, Mature Themes
60 Minutes
Blue Venue
Wednesday, May 16, 2018 @ 8:30 PM
Saturday, May 19, 2018 @ 2:30 PM
Monday, May 21, 2018 @ 9:00 PM
Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 7:30 PM
Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 7:30 PM
Saturday, May 26, 2018 @ 11:30 AM
Sunday, May 27, 2018 @ 9:00 PM




Check out ALL of our Fringe 2018 reviews at orlandoweekly.com/fringe2018

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 feedback@orlandoweekly.com.

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.