FRINGE 2017: 'The Monster Songs'

A quirky piece with fantastic and talented musicians.

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Billed as a “macabre cabaret,” The Monster Songs seems right at home in its Fringe venue. Sort of. Performed at Coffee Emporium, it’s a parody of the kind of show you might see in coffee shops around the world — except with tons of humor and weird little songs about… well, monsters. And mummies and zombies and retail and a Gingerbread Man.

From Washington, D.C., this act is making its Cincinnati debut. Dr. Dour, the straight man in this duo act, has a sly wink and an unusual 10-string touch guitar. His comic foil, the dim-witted but lovable Peach, plays the cello and the banjo. He’s the singer and composer of all the songs. But without her, he’d be just another musician with a weird gimmick. Together they are a hoot. Their show is an amusing diversion from other shows that might take themselves too seriously.

There’s a backstory as to why Dour has written so many songs about monsters; it’s a cute concept. As a cabaret concert, it’s solid with enough of a weird twist to fit into the Fringe. The set list contains original songs like “The Pharaoh’s Croon” and “The Ballad of Johnny Roller and the Bones.” Because of the clever nature of the lyrics, the musicianship will sneak up on you if you aren’t paying close attention. It’s really quite lovely to listen to, even when the lyrics fly by a little too fast.

There are fun bits between songs, including one long gag where Peach attempts to recite a poem by Edgar Allen Poe. For this element of the show, each performer takes a seat with those watching, but there’s limited audience participation (for anyone who worries about things like that). While entertaining enough, the show could tighten up its timing. Jokes could be better, and the interplay could be less obvious. The energy, while purposefully low-key, could perhaps be turned up a notch or two. That said, it is a quirky piece with fantastic and talented musicians.

I wonder what else these two — a married couple whose real names are Toby Mulford and Rachel Spicknall Mulford — have up their collective musical sleeves. The program says they rehearse in their living room. I’d love to live next door.

The CINCINNATI FRINGE FESTIVAL continues through June 11. Find CityBeat reviews of 40-plus early performances here. For a full schedule and more info about Fringe, visit

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