FRINGE 2018 REVIEW: 'Bad Poetry Night'

Will avant-garde artists give in to the temptation to go mainstream, or will they stay true to their weird, wacky selves?

Jun 2, 2018 at 11:49 am
click to enlarge "Bad Poetry Night" - PHOTO: Patrick Parker
PHOTO: Patrick Parker
"Bad Poetry Night"

The concept of a fringe festival dates back to Edinburgh, Scotland, in the 1940s. The idea was to give voice to independent artists whose no-holds-barred work wasn’t acceptable to mainstream theaters. This censorship-free attitude is at the heart of Bad Poetry Night, presented by A to Z Productions. A (Alexx Rouse) to Z (Zach Robinson) promise “some horrendously bad and outrageously funny poetry” in this kooky take at the Art Academy of Cincinnati on what they describe as “the world’s most pretentious poetic evening.”

 The play opens with breathing and barking exercises conducted by Miss Autumn Spring, one of the most self-serving emcees you’ll ever meet. “Run along, little nothings,” she cackles as she declares, “Tonight will be another evening!”

 It’s open mic night. One by one, we’re introduced to wannabe poets: Dimitri (a guy played by a gal, only we’re not sure if he’s a she on purpose), whose experience on the third shift at Denny’s provides fodder for his material. Dra, a feminist femme fatale, who warns fellow performers, “Whatever you do up there, it doesn’t really mean anything!” And Blue Xylophone, a bearded, bandana-sporting redneck whose inspiration comes from his favorite story about “a horse and his boy.” Blue Xylophone morphs into David, a poetry virgin.

 Bad Poetry Night follows these characters onstage and behind-the-scenes in a romp that comes to a rousing halt when a critic appears in the audience. If any poet receives a positive review, this could mean he or she will be “published, you get an agent, you go on tour, and you make money!” Will the avant-garde artists give in to the temptation to go mainstream? Or will they stay true to their weird, wacky selves?

 Rouse and Robinson are no strangers to Cincy Fringe. Rouse is known for her 2017 Fringe hit, Buster Bumpers and Other Metaphors, and both Rouse and Robinson for Serials 8’s All’s Faire at Know Theatre. They liken their comedy to Kids in the Hall, whose ’90s TV show was popular on cable. Rouse and Robinson make their Fringe debut together this year with Bad Poetry Night.

The Cincinnati Fringe Festival runs through June 10. Find showtimes, tickets and more info here.