TWO STREET: A TALE OF STAR-CROSSED MUMMERS (Tribe of Fools): 2014 Fringe Review 12.1

The Mummers theme, perfect for a South Philadelphia-based company, fits right in with Tribe of Fools signature sweet badass approach to theater. This love story, full of gags, comedic misunderstandings and lotsa heart, encompasses two smitten gay mummers, family devotion, and mummer-love.  Vigorous dance numbers accompanied by recorded music, and the droll patter of parade announcers alternate with clubhouse scenes, and après competition squabbles out on the parking-metered street. It’s good to see the familiar face of Zachary Chiero, veteran of Antihero and Heavy Metal Dance Fag, cast as one of the star-crossed guys. The comic and smutty verbal hi-jinks of this mummer-in-love’s sister energize the script. Interesting to see Isa St. Clair turn up in a Tribe production— the perfect choice for the piece-of-work sister. Solid writing by Nick Mazzuca, Terry Brennan, and Peter Smith (with ensemble participation) is matched by the daring and amusing physicality of the acrobatic dancing actors (in particular Peter Smith and Peter Andrew Danzig). Themed dance numbers show off Tim Popp’s cute, snappy choreography, as rival brigades – The Two Street Steppers and the Downtown Two’s – compete.  And the Two’s always win. Becca Austin’s costume design wisely doesn’t try to reproduce actual extravagant Mummers standards. But the shiny and clever costumes accommodate manic high-speed changes in a small space with limited time. The show is oodles of fringe fun.

Photo credit: www.plate3photography.com

Photo credit: www.plate3photography.com

On this night (Sept 6 @ 8 PM) it is too too hot in the crowded and airless second floor theater with two small, ineffectual fans and no air conditioning. The clammy heat provides a whole ‘nother aspect to the performance that trumps just about everything. Dripping actors thwak against each other, performing their very physical show with soaked costumes and slippery acrobatics. The sodden, clothes-clinging audience has taken a survivalist stance: If you can hang on and do it, we can do it — swelter together, troupers on both sides of the limelight. We can only hope that the rains that arrived for the 10 PM performance moderated the inside temperature down from 90+ degrees. [Church of the Crucifixion] September 4-13, 2014; fringearts.com/event/two-street-a-tale-of-star-crossed-mummers.

Read another Phindie review of TWO STREET.

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Kathryn Osenlund, theater and film junkie, is a former National Critics Institute fellow, NEA fellow in Arts Journalism, and member of the American Theater Critics Assn Steinberg and Osborn playwriting awards committee. A Barrymore Award nominator and professor emeritus in communications and theater, Kathryn also writes for NY-based CurtainUp.com. On twitter @theatrendorphin.