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Hollywood Fringe 2016


Ben Moroski and Michael Shaw Fisher

Genre: Theatre

Venue: Sacred Fools, Second Stage


Low Down

Two Fringe Heavyweights form tag-team.


Ben Moroski and Michael Shaw Fisher are laden with Hollywood Fringe Awards. Both have won the coveted Best Solo Show Award for one-man shows that they both wrote and performed, Moroski for The Wake (2014) and Shaw Fisher for Shakespeare’s Last Night Out (2015). This year, they share the stage in “Tilt”, penned by Moroski.
Michael Shaw Fisher is mercurial as Chester, a low-life with high hopes. The play reveals itself slowly, we don’t really know what situation we are looking at for a while. Chester is anxious, we don’t know who he is talking to, is it us? Boone (Moroski) turns up. Where has he been? They’re supposed to be laying low. Boone says he took the opportunity to visit an old flame as he was in the area. We learn they are holed up in a cabin while the Feds are looking for them.
It turns out that Chester wasn’t talking to us but a couple who they are holding prisoner (unseen). Something went wrong with a plan to extort money from crooked DMV clerks who’d been taking bribes.
The play reminded me somewhat of “The Dumb Waiter”, where the full situation reveals itself slowly, if at all. But it is steeped in Americana; road trips, passing though, strangers making deals before they know each other, bungled crimes, ex-girlfriends in Bakersfield.
I confidently predict that “Tilt” will get performed a lot, not because it’s brilliant (although it is very good) but because perfectly nice and normal actors will love to play these edgy, dangerous, mysterious, flawed characters.
Both actors are excellent and take us through every shift in power with clarity and speed. Sidenote: I can’t help feeling that the time-slots some shows are fitting themselves in mean that if a show is five minutes late going up, then it’s going to be pedal to the metal all the way so it finishes on time.
Moroski as Boone is physically more imposing but Chester is probably smarter, neither character is admirable in the conventional sense but both somehow earn our sympathy in turns. A happy ending seems unlikely, especially for the prisoners.
The play is a very good showcase for these wonderful actors, and will probably serve that purpose for many actors to come.
Diector Massouh keeps the action moving and the stakes high, with the writer onstage delineating responsibilities is difficult but the form and content were in concert throughout. To see these performers at the top of their game I recommend this show.