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


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.

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

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