Some shows are almost critic-proof, not because they're good but because the creators are so nice and so talented that it would seem evil to say anything negative about them. Sophie’s Dream, the brain-child of Serenity Fisher, who plays and sings and wrote the script, falls into this category.
This is a show in which four pretty girls in pretty dresses sing pretty songs and say pretty things while pretty music plays prettily. It's a show in which the opening song is about a butterfly, followed later by songs about moonlight and snowflakes and carousel horses.
It's a show in which a young girl named Sophie has three muses (or angels or graces) who watch over her and her dreams and who worry because she's depressed over a failed relationship with a boy. They fret and flitter over how to help her. A boy who’s kind of a perfect-sensitive-geek-musician appears in her dreams. There is more fretting, and at the end he becomes real.
A final song is sung after 95 minutes of wondering if the boy is the right one and if Sophie will realize that she's a talented poet and songwriter. It's a show at a Fringe festival that introduces a teddy bear as a primary metaphor without a hint of irony.
There is no question that Fisher has a staggering amount of talent: She plays magnificently, sings well, writes smoothly in rhyme and coins clever inversions of phrases. But this is a poorly formed and indulgent exercise that, like a Stradivarius with only one string, plays the same light note throughout.
Nicholas Petricca as Gray, the young man in question, does manage to add some counterpoise to the proceedings, partly because he's the only male in the cast and partly because he represents an exterior diversion from an otherwise lengthy interior monologue. It also helps greatly that his singing voice is so pleasant and that he too presents himself as a confident musician.
To give the remaining cast members their due: Sophie is played by Jordan Schramka, and her three ethereal guardians are Taylor Cloyes, Ellie Jameson and Aretta Baumgartner (who appears in another Fringe production, The Council, presented by the Performance Gallery). Fisher accompanies her troupe onstage at the keyboards and guitar.
In the end, Sophie’s Dream is a show that states a woman’s primary relationship is with her feelings. While this message might work well on a talk show or a diary or a Pop song, it flounders on stage.
To make theater work, other characters are required to muddy the waters, to make trouble and pain and to be given room enough to follow their thoughts and feelings and yes, maybe even their dreams.
(Get upcoming performance dates and venue details here.)