I’m at a bit of a loss as to what to write about Rob Callahan’s Fringe show — since his is one of those that seems to get everything right.
Okay, no — there’s a few things that spring to mind, particularly when so many of his stories are held up in quick succession. The main one being that he tends to develop an incredibly strong concept — and a hell of an opening line — and then his stories will peter out. (He actually references this in at least two stories, which he cuts off before the conclusion.)
Unbelievably, that complaint — which would be crippling in just about any other show — is minor here. Here’s another show that seems to be composed — due, no doubt, to some trick of my own brain — of pieces of others that I’ve seen: like Mahmoud’s, it is interspersed with poetic interludes, but here with a kind of relaxed playfulness that I found completely engaging. Like Couch Aliens, it relies heavily on pop-culture references, but consistently used in a completely unexpected way. It’s an odd mix of elements — autobiography, psuedo-Beatnik poetry, and sci-fi — that works, if only because its unifying theme is total and utter geekdom. (I mean, Neil Gaiman tweeted him about the show. WTF, mate? God, I’m petty.)
Whether or not you care in the slightest about that last parenthetical statement is probably a good indicator of whether or not you’ll care for this show.
(Also, I want to throw out a quick note of commendation to Jonah the Destroyer. I’ve seen several storytellers play around with the music/storytelling hybrid, and honestly, I’ve found that it rarely works — it usually ends up becoming distracting for me. Here, the music is used to illustrate the stories at carefully decided moments, in an entirely calculated way. Kudos, and I intend to steal many ideas from you.)