Writer-director Michael Thibodeau, co-author of last year’s Fringe hit Vincent
, is back with Meet the Replacements
, an original sci-fi satire that combines classic elements of Westworld, The Stepford Wives
and The Twilight Zone
in a polished, professional production.
Stephen Pugh chews his fingernails and the electrified scenery as Dr. Hank Owens, an AI-obsessed scientist in the 2060s. He’s built himself the perfect nuclear (powered) family, consisting of Donna Reed-esque wife Blossom (Erin Nicole Cline), sexpot daughter Harmony (Jillian Gizzi) and ADHD son L Ron (Greg Coleman). Owens’s domestic bubble bursts when Will Wright (Adam DelMedico, channeling Marty McFly), the orphaned son of his ex-partner, arrives on their doorstep just as his household dynamic is in the midst of a meltdown.
Thibodeau’s writing sharply satires 1960s sitcoms, with obvious setups based around oblivious characters still leading to satisfying punchlines, and the plot builds to a predictable yet potent climax that’s going for a Black Mirror
-style gut punch. To say Pugh’s entertainingly eccentric performance is over the top would be an understatement, but his castmates are all pitch-perfect in their robotic physicalities and Siri-inspired voice modulations. And in a festival full of floundering scene changes, I want to give a standing ovation to Thibodeau’s drum-tight transitions, during which every move of the clever cube-based set (designed and built by Anders Ackerman, Sam Donatelli and Nick Johnson) is carefully choreographed.
Just like the best sci-fi shows from the era it’s aesthetically inspired by, Meet the Replacements
offers genre guffaws – and even a genuine chill or two – while also asking pertinent questions about the nature of family and the meaning of self-awareness.
Meet the Replacements
Thibodeau – Orlando, FL
13 & Up – Strong Language, Mature Themes
Wednesday, May 16th 8:30pm
Sunday, May 20th 6:15pm
Monday, May 21st 7:15pm
Wednesday, May 23rd 9:00pm
Friday, May 25th 11:00pm
Saturday, May 26th 9:00pm
Sunday, May 27th 11:45AM
Check out ALL of our Fringe 2018 reviews at orlandoweekly.com/fringe2018