Fringe 2019 Review: 'Static'

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A young man takes his elderly father, a “kind liar” with alcohol-induced dementia, on a long-delayed road trip to New Orleans in Static, an original musical monologue about learning to see our loved ones clearly. New York-based playwright Connor Kelly O’Brien plays the fictional role of Matthew Riley, a son struggling to reconcile his own abandonment issues while addressing his dad’s agonizing end-of-life decisions. It’s a situation that anyone who has helped a parent pass can easily relate to, and O’Brien’s aching, invested performance nearly overcomes his script’s self-indulgent elements.

My biggest problem is the way the story’s momentum is repeatedly undermined by musical interruptions. Daniel Amedee’s modern rock score makes an excellent cinematic underscore, but he’s a far stronger songwriter and guitarist than singer. I enjoyed the studio soundtrack album – available for download at wearelightsound.bandcamp.com – but Amedee’s live vocals (at least during the preview) were unpleasantly flat and tuneless.



From a production standpoint, Static could also stand some work; the blocking is [pun warning] static, with the performers kneeling or standing stock-still for the entire show. The only movement comes from the murky monochrome projections that constantly flicker across the stage, and glacial pacing only multiplies the mournful tone.

Static’s ending involves a head-spinning identity swap that felt powerfully raw, despite being revealed as a cheat in retrospect. Though Static’s signal-to-noise ratio was ultimately too low for me to return an unreservedly enthusiastic review, I do applaud Amedee and O’Brien for their ambition in tackling this everyday tragedy with such a unique aesthetic.

Static

New Vintage Ensemble
New Orleans LA
Purple Theatre
Ages 13 and up
50 minutes
$12
Friday, May 17th 8:45 PM
Saturday, May 18th 5:00 PM
Sunday, May 19th 6:30 PM
Tuesday, May 21st 10:00 PM
Saturday, May 25th 9:00 PM
Sunday, May 26th 4:30 PM  

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