Theatre Review: THE APPOINTMENT from Lightning Rod Special

A clever 90-minute musical romp from Lightning Rod Special at FringeArts is now running until March 31st.  The Appointment as directed by Eve Steinmetz is more than just a theatrical experience.  It’s a clear and decisive stance on abortion and the absurdity of anti-abortion activists as written by Alice Yorke, Eva Steinmetz, Scott R. Sheppard, and Alex Bechtel.

Alice Yorke (Photo: Johanna Austin, http://www.AustinArt.org)

The audience is introduced to the ensemble, who all play multiple roles throughout, dressed from head to toe as fetuses. Alice Yorke leads the pack of uteri with Katie Gould, Jaime Maseda, Lee Minora, Brett Ashley Robinson, Scott R Sheppard, and Brenson Thomas. Costume designer Jill Keys created flesh-toned unitards complete with umbilical cords.  The fetuses dialogue as written with the collaboration of actors is cartoonish, outlandish, and down-right hilarious. Adding to the absurd, they threw in original music from co-writer and home-town hero, Alex Bechtel. The opening number as choreographed by Melanie Cotton was a cheeky send-up to old school Broadway.

Just as you are belly-laughing from the raucous intros and musical number, you are sucker punched into reality.  A cold, dank physician’s room, with lead Yorke numbingly adhering to the requests of standard medical intake of temperature and blood pressure.  In these moments, it is still.  Almost poetic.  Gratifying to see art imitate life.  Scary to know it’s true.  We are taken back here several times throughout the piece.  It’s daunting.  It’s real.

The Appointment goes back and forth scene to scene with the song and dance variety hour bits to the shockingly quiet scenes of the appointment.  Oona Curley’s scenic design although simplistic is highly effective and at times magical.  Using a bright orange hospital curtain as a backdrop to the play’s reality versus a red “showy” curtain to expertly assist in what I like to call sexy scene changes. Masha Tsimring’s lighting is also effective.

It is in the moments of the appointment that are truly daunting, surreal, and valid.  Other than an overly long Thanksgiving dinner scene (yet conceptually hilarious), the production moves quickly.  Lightning Rod Special does an impeccable job by getting their audience to think without being preachy.  They indulge in humor to then catapult you into sincere truth. I would warn any woman who may have gone through such an experience that there are several triggering moments. LRS does indeed caution that the “associated risks include exposure to hypocrisy, absurdity, and rampant misogyny.”

The Appointment continues it’s run through March 31st at FringeArts.  They also provide multiple post-show events as well.  FringeArts shares a venue with La Peg which offers a full bar menu to bring a beverage into the theatre with you.  You can also indulge in their food menu before or after the performance.  Reservations are encouraged.

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