[15] GO LONG BIG SOFTIE (Groundswell Players): Fringe review

Go Long Big Softie. Photo by Kate Raines. 2013 Philly Fringe Festival
Photo by Kate Raines.

As I watch TV and lament the opportunities missed by my fantasy football team (Why didn’t I start Jimmy Graham? I’m an idiot, that’s why.) I am reminded of the opportunities missed by GO LONG BIG SOFTIE, the new comedy from the Groundswell Players. In SOFTIE, a bespectacled nebbish (Scott Sheppard) wants to train with a mythopoetic men’s therapist (Mason Rosenthal). The therapist reluctantly agrees—he’s sort of like Burgess Meredith meets Mr. Miyagi—and the training becomes the focus of the play. Sheppard’s strength and animal instincts are tested by Rosenthal as the former tries to grasp the Ways of the Warrior.

But there is another important aspect to being a man, as per our balding sensei, and that is femininity. This is where SOFTIE loses its juice. In the world of the play, getting in touch with one’s feminine side consists of kissing a random woman in the audience, stripping naked and staring into a mirror. The actors’ liberality with their bodies is intended as a stand-in for vulnerability, but this is ineffective. There are opportunities here for some fine skewering of contemporary attitudes toward gender and manliness, but they are forfeited in favor of what amounts to an elongated SNL sketch. The point seems to be that masculinity is, well, kind of gay; but as I watch a bunch of sweaty, muscular men bear hug other sweaty, muscular men on my TV, I can’t help but think there might be more to say here. [Torrent Collective] September 6-21, 2013. fringearts.ticketleap.com/go-long-big-softie
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