Theatre Review: BROCCOLI, ROOSEVELT, AND MR. HOUSE with The Berserker Residents

Most shows wouldn’t want the set to come crashing down in total chaos. But this lively, engaging children’s show is NOT most shows.

The talented trio of The Berserker Residents, featuring Brad Wrenn, Justin Jain and David Johnson, use their comedy chops to create a uniquely original production at The Fringe Arts Theater.

Broccoli, Roosevelt and Mr. House ran at The Fringe Arts Theater this April, as part of The High Pressure Fire Service, unique presentations and series of Philadelphia’s leading contemporary performers.  Thanks to a grant from the Spark Series, a leadership gift from the Virginia and Harvey Kimmel Arts Education Fund, this creative trio of actors developed a comedy that pleased both child and parent.

The bright, colorful sets designed by Peter Smith, immediately caught the eye. Equally as exciting was that the characters all came out to the audience, pre-show, and began interacting with us, chatting us up, lots of high-fives and smiles! The show was recommended for ages 5 and up, but the distinct characters, costumes and interactions captivated even the younger ones, including my own 4 year old. My daughter was particularly enthralled with Mr. Broccoli due to his outlandish costume.

The actors’ costumes, created by Becca Austin, reflected their distinct characters. Brad Wrenn’s Mr. Broccoli was clad in ballet shoes and a tutu, while Justin Jain played the loveable, furry horned monster named. Last, but certainly not least, was the walking, talking appropriately named Mr. House, played by David Johnson. Generally speaking, one wouldn’t place these characters together in a show. After all, what does broccoli have to do with a monster that cracks jokes or a house that can walk and roll? The Berserker Residents prove that anyone (or thing) can be a true friend, no matter what happens.

The audience of children and adults were encouraged to cheer and shout along throughout the show. Their catchphrase “The Fun Don’t Stop!” was chanted many times, and truly, the fun didn’t stop, not once. Audience-favorite moments included a zany mail delivery, particularly the “pull my finger” box. This segment resulted in many giggles as various little (and big!) audience members got to “pull the finger” and make fart noises into the microphone.

Mr. Broccoli’s ballet sequence was equally enthralling, as he tried to gracefully leap into an audience member’s waiting arms. Roosevelt’s “monster slingshot” was hilarious, as we all got to help get Roosevelt to the target. Warm lighting, a friendly and catchy soundtrack of adorable songs helped to propel this witty and wonderful show along. A shout out to the lighting designer, Maria Shaplin, for a remarkable job creating “another dimension” as our 3 heroes worked to keep the fun in the “fun-o-meter” all the way at 10.  Spoiler alert: of course they don’t, but, as the madcap hijinks continue, even into another dimension, it doesn’t matter if the fun-o-meter is at 10, 5 or 0, because these friends truly look out for each other and show the true meaning of friendship in the end.

Speaking of the end, the set really does fall apart. The show culminated in an epic ping pong battle with the cast and a storm of toilet paper, pom-poms and rubber chickens. Needless to say, the audience left laughing,

Kudos to The Berserker Residents! They asked the question, “Does your house have feelings?” Well, this theater house did, and it was full of laughter, silliness and love.

 

The show concluded it’s run April 14th. There are many Fringe Arts programs on the horizon.

For more information about Fringe Arts check out www.fringearts.com

 

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