Fringe 2009 – Top 10 – #10 – Applesauce Fiction

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If you held a gun to my head and I could only see 10 Fringe shows, what would they be and why?

#10

Jeffrey Shockley

Applesauce Fiction

A couple, Henri and Francoise, live on a planet which is undergoing a food shortage. Science (or whatever) has discovered a way to travel between different potential universes, and those in power invite Henri and Francoise to conceive of a universe in which they have everything they want. Upon being conceived, the universe exists, and Henri and Francoise receive everything they could ever want from their “newniverse” selves. However, when they realize their dream world necessitates oppression and slavery, Henri and Francoise must confront themselves and overthrow the newniverse government in a coup d’etat.

OK, even if I knew nothing else about the show, the phrasing “Science (or whatever) has discovered a way…” is pretty funny.

And then they enumerate the who, what, when, where of the show (location, time, etc.), and among that list we have…

“This is the what: It is a play concerning quantum decoherence, and an apple with a mandolin.

This is the why: To revel in the revolution. To get high on the hijinx. To delight in the debacle.”

And my personal favorite, which pretty much convinced me these were my kind of Fringers…

“This is the who: I. Garelik, N. Marcouiller, W. Mullaney, J. Potter, M. Riley, J. Shockley, M.D. Williams

This is The Who: R. Daltrey, J. Entwhistle, K. Moon, P. Townshend”

Hee.

Some fellow theatergoers were chatting about it, and the Fringe-For-All preview, and couldn’t make up their minds, and then it seemed all the heads at the table turned to face me, as if to say, collectively, “What did you think of it?”

(Well, I’d typed up a bit on it already here in the Fringe-For-All coverage)

But to sum it up quickly, I responded, “It’s weird, but it’s a good kind of weird. It’s the kind of weird where you see it and think ‘this is odd, but intriguing’ not ‘why the hell am I watching this?'”

I’ve read the script since then and it is definitely something that exists in its own weird little world. But it’s a weird little world that has very specific rules, and it follows them assiduously. You can track everything. It never goes so far out into left field that it leaves you behind as an audience member on the page. It has its own logic, and your brain quickly wraps around it and incorporates that alternate universe logic as you watch. So it all makes a very strange kind of silly sense.

Here’s what the playwright Maggie Williams had to say…

“This fable is an absurdist comedy on the themes of power, consumption, and false resolution (in politics). Naturally, it draws on the current international economic crisis as a tap of situations from which audiences might relate to the story. Francoise and Henri, in particular, must balance their fear of downward social mobility with their sense of responsibility toward those upon whom their high status may be an unwelcome burden. It’s the crisis of conscience afflicting fallen CEOs and washed-up celebrities, as well as the ever-growing newly-unemployed middle class.

The resulting inner turmoil for our heroes isn’t written for laughs, as is most of the rest of the turmoil. The characters at the heart of this fairy tale for an age of recession are treated humanely; the laughably absurd day-to-day red tape, the dogma, and the dubious decisions handed down by those in charge are heightened and skewered.

If you are a citizen of this universe (you are), you are highly encouraged to attend this show. If you are a citizen of an alternate version of this universe, you should come see this show, too, and let us know if you’re being portrayed correctly. We can only imagine.”

I’ve been corresponding with producer/actor whose name is above the title, Jeffrey Shockley. Here’s a little bit of what he had to say about the process…

“The staging involves puppetry, clowning, and live music. I am the listed producer, but we’re all students at the university attempting to put our studies into practice working collaboratively.

Our tech is tonight, and I think we have our work cut out for us. This month we’ve added a lot of props and set decorations, which I get a little nervous about, but I think they’re really going to add a lot.

We’ve had to dodge around not having a projector, since the script calls for video, and have opted for photorealistic 2-D puppets in a cardboard TV frame as a substitute. I’m personally far more amused by that than I think I would have been by an actual video. Sometimes limitations are good.

[Blogger’s note – Yes. Yes they are. Fringe makes you get creative. And I find the concept of the puppets pretty amusing, too. Looking forward to seeing them. Back to Jeff…]

All this set junk occupying my apartment, and my roommates have remarked that it reminds them of the dreamworld set from “The Science of Sleep”. That’s actually pretty spot-on, though not the intention.

We’ve also been working on adding live music, which has been a lot of fun. Ilya Garelik, our apple, is a very talented granola-crunching mandolin jam bander who adds a lot to the physical comedy moments we’ve inserted in the transitions and intro.

See you at Fringe (THIS WEEK?)!!”

Yes, Jeff. Yes, you will. I’ll be in your audience, probably scratching my befuddled head, but enjoying the show.

Applesauce Fiction

Their video trailer

Their Fringe-For-All preview