Fringe 2018 review: 'TK421 Is Dead' gives an entirely new perspective on the inner life of Stormtroopers

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Fans of that famous galaxy far, far, away have several Fringe shows to pick from, including Charlie Ross’s officially licensed One Man Star Wars Trilogy. But TK 421 Is Dead: A Storm Trooper Story, this festival’s other Force-fueled production from Ross, seems to draw more inspiration from THX-1138 – George Lucas’ dark, dystopian first feature – than the Disney-owned sci-fantasy franchise.

TK411 (Rod Peter Jr.) is an anonymous drone dressed in a black jumpsuit, just a tiny cog in the Galactic Empire’s massive machine. The ingenious but apathetic engineer spends his monotonous days tinkering with MSE-6 “mouse” droids in the depths of a trash compactor, a cylopean dianoga his only company. 421’s halting efforts to connect with his poster-boy pal, TK421 (Ross), and faceless food-service worker TK564 (also Ross), coincide with a “pirate” incursion on their space station, leading 411 toward an unexpected destiny.



This Stoppard-influenced spin on A New Hope teases with nearly 20 minutes of elliptical scene-lets – obtuse dialogue punctuated by blackouts and repeating numbers – before the first firm film connections arrive. Jedi who ride out their initial confusion will eventually be rewarded with deep-cut references to Boonta Eve and Mos Eisley. Though there are some big laughs (especially for those who know the movie minutiae), the grim, grinding tone and stop-and-start pacing is closer to water torture than wacky comedy. As long as you’re prepared to be patient, this Rosencrantz & Guildenstern-esque answer to Episode IV will give you an entirely new perspective on the inner life of Stormtroopers, something I never knew I needed until now.

TK 421 Is Dead: A Storm Trooper Story
Chicken for Supper Productions / Charles Ross
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
All Ages
65 minutes
Gold Venue
Saturday, May 19th 9:00pm
Friday, May 25th 5:30pm

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

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