San Francisco Fringe 2017
“Dandy Darkly makes his San Francisco debut! Dandy is New York City’s alt-cabaret, cult sensation with a masterful and mesmerizing style of Southern gothic storytelling that has astounded critics and delighted audiences at Fringe festivals and theaters across the globe.
His latest show, Dandy Darkly’s Myth Mouth!, explores themes of religion, addiction and social media obsession via satirical tales concerning a junkie Persephone, space-pup Laika, virtual reality fixation and humanity’s premiere popinjay, Cha-Cha the Caveman. Dandy unwinds his delirious tales of sex and death alongside nonstop, original music and eclectic sound effects to create a truly immersive storytelling experience.”
In a silvery body suit with tall pointed shoulders and an Elizabethan ruff around his neck, a tiny top hat with lights carefully tilted on his head, Dandy Darkly struts on stage in white platform shoes encrusted with silver jewels. He is in white face makeup with colorful stripes on his forehead. Dandy is tall, has a rich booming resonant voice, most actors would die for, and a wicked laugh. It is already clear that this show is going to be way different from others – and it certainly is, in a wonderful way!
Dandy Darkly is a storyteller, but with the distinction of being a traditional Southern Gothic storyteller. Gothic storytelling comes from the American South and evolved from a melting pot of oral storytelling from the Southern states as well as from its early settlers from the British Isles. This tradition includes lurid, beautiful, poignant language set to music.
Darkly tells several stories based on mythology and “true stories” and as he says, he puts his own queer spin on them. Myth Mouth is written by Darkly, and he also includes allegory, satire, modern references, and some casual familiarity in his performance.
He is very physical (although he does not move around the stage in his show), and his presence is so strong that he populates the stage space with more than himself – always with a majestic flourish of his melodic voice and unique physical gestures that range from strong and bold to graceful, visceral and elegant. He uses gestures throughout the show, whether he is physicalizing a Venus fly-trap in action or indicating who someone’s parents are, in fact Darkly has created a specific movement and action vocabulary for every moment in his show. This is absolutely brilliant!
The words emanate with a rhythmic delivery from Darkly non-stop, with silence and brief black outs at the end of each of the stories. There are also one or two quieter tone sections such as the dystopian space story. He embodies the mood and emotions of the characters as well as narrates beautifully with full emotional, physical and vocal investment. He obviously enjoys sharing his vivid tales with the audience and does so with glorious freedom and yet the structure of the show is very well developed and guides him – and us – through his fascinating journey.
Cha Cha the caveman features in several stories, including other characters such as “the slaw slayer”, Professor Jeffries, and the classical heroine Persephone who becomes Seffy in the Myth Mouth version.
Rich language and imagery such as “…shimmered every shade of azure…” and “Greasy gristle” spill out from this well paced show and he is ready with ad libs, when needed. The themes are deeper than one may think at first, and touch on indoctrination, addiction, trust, sex and death.
Myth Mouth is underscored with music throughout, starting with drum-beats, the score changes for each story and is truly beautiful and atmospheric. Darkly is undoubtedly creative because he produced the music (performed by musician friends) and had a hand in designing everything onstage, especially the costume – custom created for him to his specifications – and the delicate backdrop curtain in shades of mauve with fascinating designs.
Myth Mouth is a multi layered show – it’s a wickedly mischievous, creative, joyous, boisterous, lyrical, brash, poetic, funny and entertaining show!