Fairytales and myths aren’t really the default mode of storytelling for us moderns. That’s unfortunate, since they continue to carry a mystical dynamic that resonates regardless of age or era. For its 2015 entry, Performance Gallery (that group has appeared in 13 of 13 Fringes) weaves its own Hans Christian meets Wes Anderson-styled fable with the nearly naughtily titled Shirtzencockle.
It is the company’s standard to create original storylines that follow strange trajectories to interesting plot points. This production remains true that pattern. The show begins with the fairly meta framework of some backstage banter and accidental placement of props, then segues to the cast appearing onstage with a cautionary and comical rhyme of what one ought not to do.
What follows is a series of separate parables about a young girl (Sydney Ashe) that charts her wayward progress from birth to self-realization. I thought there was a great deal of charm in having the divisions of the show announced as such: “The Tale of the Orphan,” “The Tale of the Flipped Side” and so on.
Four other cast members (Jacob Thomas Biel, Jodie Linver, Willemein Patterson and Derek Snow) play a variety of characters that are agents of challenge and change for the lost young woman. As directed by Regina Pugh, the performers have their moments (especially Snow), but the production lacks the precision and punch that makes a work of this nature stand out. In most instances, Ashe has the focus handed to her rather than actually taking it for those revelations of what it means to be lost in the world, regardless of whether it’s mythical or real.
Nicholas Korn is a playwright whose work has been produced in New York City, Chicago and Cincinnati. His stage comedy, Delirium’s Daughters, recently played Off-Off Broadway at New York’s Theatre Row Studio Theatre.