Fringe Reviews, Day 6

I had an unpleasant relationship once.

Well, several, I suppose, but one was particularly unpleasant notsomuch in how it went, but how it stopped. The one complaint I had during the relationship itself, besides not knowing that it was ending abruptly without my knowledge, was that I had to sit through every stupid romantic comedy known to man. Oh, sometimes I "got to choose" the romcom, but in the end I had to see them all. Maid in Manhatten. Addicted to Love. Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion. When the relationship ended, I vowed I would never see another one.

I suppose technically Strawberries in January isn't a movie, and I don't have to count it.

Chris Bullough plays Francois, an annoying French guy. Patrick Howarth plays Robert, a pretentious French guy. Jana O'Connor plays Sophie, an uptight French liberal. Rebecca Starr plays Lea, a...are we out of cliched French characters already? Well, she plays a single mother.

(As aside, Bullough and O'Connor are a real-life couple. The playbill tells you this. The people in the lineup told me this. Bullough and O'Connor essentially told me this over the weekend when I drank with them last weekend -- by this, I mean I drank in the same enclosed space as they did -- and watched them cuddle and kiss for 90 minutes. Today I did the same thing, and it cost me $14)

Francois and Sophie are roommates in love, due to be married, when somebody breaks it off (who? well, we see both sides, and later are told which one it was, and even later are told it was the other, and later still are assured which one was true - a detail I left out). Francois, being an annoying Frenchman with coffee bar, tells the story to pretty much everyone he meets. Robert, being a pretentious professor of French Literature, is at a coffee bar to hear the tale. Meanwhile, Robert has some history of his own, and when Francois sets professor dude on a date with his ex-fiancee, the interconnectedness of their lives starts to pile up not unlike another romantic comedy I watched in the dark days and reviewed on this site.

The biggest dig against the casting: that Francois and Sophie don't seem compatible, is a weak argument to make since the two are actually a couple. I'll make it anyways, and add that while Rebecca Starr looks to be in her late 30s (and could indeed pass for mid-40s as she is portrayed in early scenes) we later find the character is supposed to be 25-28. The elder looks helps us establish her and Robert as a couple, but ends up letting us feel slightly creepy. On the other hand, if I can be nailing mid-20s chicks in my 40s, I'll come back and edit this passage out.

I suppose I can take this opportunity to make another complaint about fringe plays: the number of characters in them who are themselves theatre performers. If art is truely supposed to tell us something about ourselves, we'd better all start writing creative works -- can't expect the fringers to write actual original characters. Or maybe they're telling us our lives don't have enough drama: she's an arc welder with a heart of gold, he sells insurance and ogles black chicks at the bar -- no play to be had there unless she actually paints and writes theatrical works in her spare time!

Where was I? Oh yes, I also have to note that Robert (Patrick Howarth) looks exactly like me, for those wishing to learn what I look like. Well, he doesn't look like me so much as he looks exactly like my autobiographical character in The Sims 2, which is still sort of cool. Anyways, the play has some laughs, has some romance, and has some cute girls as audience members. If you need a date play, Strawberries in January might be what you're looking for.