The Selfish Shellfish tell Angela like it is. Writer Karl Greenburg at the bedhead. The adventure unfurled when Angela pushed that big button with the 'X' on it. I was lucky to get this shot - a minder came up and told me not to take pictures. Even the Guggenheim now realizes that to get butts back on seats you gotta let people bottle memories with their Nikon Coolpixes!
AUGUST is Fringe Festival (or off-off Broadway) month in NYC, when low (budget) life like me get to feel like one of those folks who live in Tribeca, Soho, or the upper East Side, the Upper West Side, or dammit, any which side of NYC.
One of these shows I attended was Angela's Flying Bed, a 1-hour family musical staged in Bleecker Street.
Now what was I, a die hard single income no kidder, doing at a PG-rated show? Well, the co-writer is none other than a Bike Friday customer, Karl Greenberg. Oh how I love to dip my toe into the diverse and quirky lives of our customers. Besides, so many of them come out to support my shtick.
Karl is a dude of substance. To his credit he publicized what he called "the good and not-so-good reviews" of the show (they're actually both good), which speaks volumes for the man and whose obvious talent can only expand like buttcheeks on a Ben and Jerry's diet. Now you can see why he's a comedy writer and I ain't. You also have to be pretty substantial to be seen on a "don't you have to pedal more?" Bike Friday ...
But back to this show. Read those two opinions for a fair appraisal and roll call of names and I'll just add my take without ticking every critic's box. It's a series of Alice-in-Wonderlandish vignettes about a little girl called Angela whose cellphone addicted career parents ("have you studied for your play dates?") are momentarily stopped in their tracks when, tired of being moved from house to house and being generally unheard, Angela refuses to get out of bed. A bit of fanciful plotting involving a doctor and a surreal bedding company and Angela is whisked off on a global tour in a flying bed, encountering all-singing and dancing characters like the Selfish Shellfish (in simple, clever costumes using diving fins and goggles), the melancholy Llamas in Pyjamas, a pair of stuck up birds, and other oddball dramatis personae. Each encounter has a lesson to teach the young Angela about some core value, including appreciating your parents, no matter how dysfunctional.
The sparkle in this show is clearly the relentless "who's on first" punning and rhyming dialog, set to a score of very catchy music accompanied by a simple upright piano. In fact, the dialog is so clever and loop-the-loopy, it seems a bit of a mouthful for some of the characters, including little Angela, played by Karl's daughter Maya Gaston. She's a real cutie, and maintains a circumspect, but somewhat overly melancholy air throughout. Perhaps she'd rather be writing than acting, thinking, "Dad, I would have written it THIS way ...".
Aside from two of the actors, Trip Plymale and Karl's wife Lydia Gaston who play their multiple freaky roles with gusto, the singing, acting, and production as a whole is a little unpolished. This, in my opinion, only adds to the charm of the production, especially if you think of it as a pantomime rather than Cabaret on 42nd Street. At the end of the show I realized I had a smile on my face for most of it - which is how I judge my enjoyment of anything. I haven't been to a family oriented play for the longest time, and it was a nice chance from having bleak irony and socio-politico messages shoved in my face. Why it almost made me feel like having a whiny kid!
Catch the final performances of Angela's Flying Bed by clicking here:
Angela's Flying Bed
Flying Bed Productions
Writer: Karl Greenberg / Dave Hall
Director: Chris Clavelli
A lonely girl with busy parents goes on a wacky musical adventure. She meets characters like The Selfish Shellfish, the Awful Pretty-Pretty Awful Birds and Humphrey the hump-less camel. The NY Times calls the Brooklyn-based creators of this show “hilarious”.
1h 0m Brooklyn New York FringeJR Musical
VENUE #15: Theatres at 45 Bleecker Street - The Bleecker Street Theatre
Fri 10 @ 5
Wed 15 @ 5:45
Sun 19 @ 3:15
Thu 23 @ 8
Sun 26 @ 2:30