BOTTOM LINE: If you're a fan of HBO's Summer Heights High or old school MTV 'toon Daria, this one-man, five character show will appeal to your sense of humor.
Don't let the words "one-man show" fool you: while actor and playwright Mark Shyzer is the only performer up on stage in The Frigid Festival's Fishbowl, he brings to life five quirky and hopelessly lonely characters that are all inextricably linked.
In quick-witted, pop culture-driven language, Shyzer monologues as each of his characters to give the audience a voyeuristic snippet into the lives of these people (hence, a fishbowl). There's Esther – the quintessential drooling science freak with a speech impediment who is in love with her physics teacher and best friends with her pet fish, Frank; the loner with a penchant for skinny jeans, black eyeliner and all things gothic who has shunned his birth name Frances in favor of the ever-emo Ravyn; Janice, the boozy divorcee, who drowns her sorrows of being traded in by her husband for a hot young gay man in the mimed martini glass Shyzer dutifully holds; the bitter nursing home resident, Walter, with a vegetable for a roommate, desperately searching for the perfect last words before he goes; and what rat pack would be complete without a queen of spandex, aerobics videos and all things '80s whose brain is as fried as the blond hair she (Carol) sports in segments played on a TV from stage?
As a writer, Shyzer possesses the talents and smarts of adult cartoon writers before him. From the stereotypically goth Ravyn to booze-addled forty-something Janice, his characters could easily be the real life versions of those I watched on MTV's cult classic from the '90s, Daria. He pokes fun at present day lonely archetypes and his embodiment of each one is as cheeky as the language that he uses. All in all, a fun 60-minute foray into the worlds of 5 different loners, created and brought to life by a committed Shyzer.
(Fishbowl plays at the The Red Room, 85 E. 4th Street on the 3rd floor, through March 7, 2010. Performances are March 2 at 6:30pm, March 6 at 9:30pm, and March 7 at 5 pm. Tickets are $16 and can be purchased at smarttix.com. For more festival information visit frigidnewyork.info.)