Friday, March 04, 2011

Frigid ’11: Joe, the Perfect Man

Joe Mal does not seem to know actors are supposed to call Macbeth the “Scottish Play.” It hardly matters though. There is no possible way he will pass his audition, but it will not be for a lack of trying in Rachelle Elie’s one . . . man show Joe: the Perfect Man, one of thirty independent productions, each no longer than an hour, currently running as part of the 2011 Frigid Festival.

Somewhat akin to Chris Farley’s Matt “Down by the River” Foley, Mal desperately seeks redemption by landing a part in Shakespeare’s cursed play. He will do anything, including pulling up members of the audience to run scenes with him. Frankly, Perfect probably works better when Elie has a larger talent pool to recruit from than the performance I saw. Still, Mal/Elie is clearly game to “audition” for anyone, anywhere, at any time.

Indeed, Elie is a fearless performer. However, there is something unsettling about the way the production blurs the distinction between comedy and tragedy. Ultimately, it is hard to judge how exactly we are supposed to react to Mal, with laughter or pity. Still, Mal fares better in his Macbeth mash-ups than the illustrious Peter O’Toole and Kelsey Grammer did in their notorious productions.

Given the Frigid mandated hour’s running time, every show in the festival moves along at a good clip. Definitely worth checking out (especially Matthew Wells’ break-neck Scarlet Woman), the festival runs through Sunday (3/6) at the Kraine Theater, the Red Room, and Under St. Mark’s. Mal auditions at the Kraine again tonight (3/4) and Sunday afternoon.