I’ll give Jimmy Grzelak and his fringe-worthy production of Walt Fit credit for making the most of a skimpy workout costume and equally threadbare approach to originally promising material. The setup for this one-man — and mostly one-note — show is that the illustrious American poet, Walt Whitman, was not only a great bard, but also one of the earliest self-help and fitness gurus.
There is so much that could be done with this concept and the actual writings of Whitman to make this 50-minute outing equally preposterous and poignant that it’s almost personally disappointing to see Grzelak leverage his considerable stage talents to keep this undeveloped piece in motion.
The structure of the performance follows a daily, daylong workout routine based loosely on themes in Whitman’s work. Some are ridiculous and some are rude, and there are songs and motivational send-ups that wink at and mock our average lives and the paradigms of the self-improvement industry.
Although Grzelak’s sense of staging and comic timing are all engaged and engaging, most of the musical numbers have only a single lyric line that is repeated endlessly. There is even one that claims “change is good” — and indeed it would have been.
Grzelak mentions at the end of the show, that this is a work in progress, and that’s an encouraging statement. There are definitely funny lines and moments in the proceedings, and he knows how and when to rely on his art to make them ring. But if he is going to bring a big voice like Walt Whitman into his show, he might want to let him sing the song of himself as well.
The Cincinnati Fringe Festival runs through June 10. Find showtimes, tickets and more info here.