Hollywood Fringe 2016
Improv musical troupe are better when they have time to think about it.
Robot Teammate & the Accidental Party are a musical improv troupe based in Hollywood with a strong local following. Last fest they presented “Timeheart”, a show that grew out of their improv shows. This year they are following the same path with “Thug Tunnel”, a book musical about subterranean people in the future daring to go back to the scorched surface of the earth. This is a much stronger and more realized vehicle than “Timeheart”,
There is a soft eco-message about destroying the earth’s natural balance, but this is basically an escape story with lots of good songs and strong performances.
Kat Primeau is great as Petunia, the girl who decides to brave the tunnel of the title to reach the surface that she has heard about. She is accompanied by Panther ( Chris Bramante), who carries a torch for Petunia (literally and metaphorically).
Dave Reynolds is a comic stand-out as Stabby Rick, the leader and seeming slave-driver of the rag-tag collection of souls who scavenge for their meager existence. Rick’s song “Collection Time” manages to be funny whilst setting the tone and outlining the hierarchy of this underworld . Nikki Muller shines as Ricks consort and power behind the throne, her operatic “When I am Queen” being a particular highlight.
There is a large (and largely under-used) ensemble and a five piece band (under the direction of Sam Johnides) making this unlikely to ever be a commercially viable theatrical offering but the songs are all good and the story is strong and clear.
Having the luxury of time to work on a script and songs has allowed the team to do more detailed work than would emerge from improv; lyrically the songs are very sophisticated with some very good use of counter-melodies and intricate harmonies.
I would have liked a bit more of an age-range to represent the society I was looking at, but I guess musical improv is a thirty-year old’s bag (performers and audience alike).
The costume design is more Goodwill than Fury Road but the low-tech feel suits the subject-matter better than it did last year’s inter-galactic adventure.
There are a lot of loose musical romps on offer this year, Thug Tunnel is no less fun for having that secret ingredient; evidence of rehearsal. The performances are all strong and the band is tight. You should enjoy this show whether or not you’ve had a couple of drinks first.