Have you ever fallen head-over-heels for someone who isn’t quite your type? Perhaps that’s what happened when Dr. Dour, the somber ethno-crypto-zoo-musicologist (his term!), first met the cheery, be-ribboned Peach. They’ve been performing together for years now, but while Dr. Dour and Peach make dark and beautiful music together, in Love & Other Lures, they are still not always on the same page.
DOUR: This next song is about a giant, man-eating alligator and the man who hunted him down.
PEACH: Were they in love?!
DOUR: No, they were not in love! This is one of the other lures.
When their cello and raven skeletons are packed away for the night, “horror comedy clowns” Dr. Dour and Peach are artists and partners Toby Mulford and Rachel Spicknall Mulford. The Mulfords have staged their recorded Fringe show as a “live” house concert featuring a half-dozen songs in their signature (and contradictory) style: macabre yet family-friendly, goofy yet intelligent, vaudevillian yet wholly their own.
Love & Other Lures is certainly a show for weirdos. Children of all ages will appreciate the campy puppets (James Humphries) in the song “Trolls;” they’re a bit weirder than your average Jim Henson dolls, but no less lovable. Actor Matthew Pauli makes a cameo as The Man in the Wall, a wee interloper who helps transition between psychedelic Swamp Rock ballads and cautionary tales about vampires.
Expect the show to be interrupted with lessons about language or ancient Greece — or because Peach has simply wandered into the void.
Because of the duo’s anything-can-happen style, it is difficult to be sure if moments in the show are intentional. Peach reads her siren song from a sheet of paper, ostensibly because she has just been handed the lyrics; regardless, it’s a distracting decision. Another example: the final song of the show is borrowed, as The Man in the Wall explains, from a rehearsal. It sounds as though it belongs at the beginning of the show. It’s worth the bumble to include the very funny “Sally’s Fault” (“You just had to read that ancient scroll aloud, didn’t you, Sally?”). But it’s a disorienting moment in the narrative.
Love & Other Lures overwhelms any small gaffes with its great sense of fun and its smartly-crafted music. In fact, Toby Mulford’s lyrics are so tight and witty that I wish there were a sing-along version with the words provided, and he’s no slouch on the 10-string touch-guitar either.
Dr. Dour and Peach’s newest “playfully macabre cabaret about love, danger, and things with teeth” is a treat. As The Man in the Wall suggests: “Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the nearest exit. Do not, under any circumstances, use it.”
The 17th annual all-digital Cincinnati Fringe Festival runs through June 13. Get tickets and show info at cincyfringe.com.