Smooth Tim Oberholzer, long now a recurring player on the stage at the Gladstone Theatre, is a double-threat in Fringe this year. Not only is he appearing in Bear and Company’s WINDFALL JELLY, but he’s taken upon himself the rather daunting task of creating his own original work as well. And of course, Fringe is the place where you do that, but he’s decided to make his new piece a full-on musical. And one based on the legend of Narcissus at that. Go big or go home, right?
The namesake for his own new production company, THE VANITY PROJECT stars Tim himself and his golden pipes (seriously, this boy can sing up a fucking storm) as our narrator for the tale of Narcissus (Nicholas Amott), pitching a different spin on the classic legend of the man who fell in love with his own reflection. Using the myth in a rather clever (I thought) way to comment on our all too frequent inability to communicate with each other, we find Narcissus smitten with beautiful Echo (Tess McManus), only to discover that both of them are too shy to speak to one another. But while Narcissus slinks away in romantic defeat, Echo takes a slightly more…aggressive approach to the matter, invoking divine retribution in the form of Nemesis (Holly Griffith).
This is a mighty ambitious production for our heroes to mount for the Fringe, and I’m happy to say they pulled it off. With help from Rachel Eugster both onstage and helping with the impressive musical score, the story is told in pretty grand fashion. Cool set and lighting design finish helping a solid cast do their work…Amott makes a fine tragic hero (lots of tragedy at this year’s Fringe, geez..!), and shares some delightful awkward stammering with Tess McManus as bookish Echo. And Holly Griffith gets a nice spot of scene-stealing in as no-nonsense, stiletto-heeled Nemesis. And all of them have great voices, nailing their songs like naturals…I’d been wondering what Holly’s singing would be like, and was not disappointed. The songs themselves range from okay to great, with lots of memorable lines and tunes scattered throughout. A gorgeously theatrical bit of Fringe, and one that makes me think the upcoming Vanity Project production at the Gladstone of HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH is gonna be a gooder. If you’re a musical fan, you pretty much have to check this one out over at Arts Court Theatre while you still can. Peace, love and soul,
Kevin Reid, the Visitor (and Winston)