I won’t call it the hottest ticket of the Fringe.
But get to Neon’s for Fire & Light before word gets out. That patio is going to be packed, and I’m sure the good marshals will be counting heads. Cincinnati-based Incendium Arts — a half-dozen fearless and lithesome performers, with deejay — ignite Neons’ bocce pitch with a mesmerizing and dynamic display of flaming wands, batons, hula hoops, poi balls, drumsticks, even alcohol-laced spit.
This is not high art: It is fire and light, and lots of it. There is originality, artistry and grace, though, in several acts, and in the show’s thoughtfully assembled soundtrack. Kate McCoy is a master at poi, and Melissa “Hex” Rounds rocks the crowd with an ecstatic hoop dance to “Don’t Stop Me Now,” a lesser-known Queen single from 1978 that might be Incendium Arts’ unofficial anthem: “I’m a shooting star leaping through the skies/Like a tiger defying the laws of gravity/I’m a racing car passing by like Lady Godiva … I’m burning through the skies, yeah!” Spin it, sister.
After Rounds’ joyful display, the hardcore finale — an all-company spectacle set to Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” — comes across as a bit of a downer. But unlike some other Fringe shows we’ve seen so far, this one is exactly the right length. Just when you start to think, “OK, maybe I’ve seen enough fire for one night,” the flames go out.
Another caveat: The program lists Fire & Light as “family friendly,” which is true, except that all family members would have to be 21 or older in order to get into Neons. With only a handful of Fringe shows being appropriate for kids and teens, it’s too bad this crowd-pleaser had to be booked (with a boatload of necessary permits, producer Eric Vosmeier told me) in a bar. For those of age, however, it’s the perfect setting for a cold beer, music, fire, and light on a warm Cincy summer night.