Off Broadway (and sometimes Broadway) Reviews and Information.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

History, Heartbreak and Humor Mix Wildly in Fossils

Fossils dances to on stage at the 59E59, as part of their Brits Off Broadway series. It brings a decidedly off-beat and British sense of humor and resoluteness that sparkles wonderfully in the dark. Fossils was written by Bucket Club - who want to explore how stories are told by changing the dynamics of the play going experience and, in this show, using live music in profoundly new ways.  
Fossils is the story of Vanessa, a research fellow in evolutionary biology. She is focused looking at the changes over time of long lost life forms, how they evolved and what happened to them. Vanessa is equally determined to not look at her own history, with one missing parent and one parent she keeps at arm’s length. Vanessa also overseas two doctoral students, Dominic and Myles. Since she is slightly older and a much more rigidly structured person, they overcompensate by acting even younger and more irresponsible than they are.
L-R: Adam Farrell, Helen Vinten, and Luke Murphy in FOSSILS at 59E59 Theaters. Photo by Carol Rosegg
Vanessa and the teams’ routine is upset by a tabloid announcement, of a new siting of the Loch Ness monster. Because of Vanessa’s knowledge in the subject area, she is besieged by questions from the press. Questions she finds superfluous and distracting. But the questions also nag at her.
Ultimately, she and Dominic enter into a road trip to Loch Ness to find the answers of the mysteries of the monster and of her youth, include the disappearance of her father. 
The entire show is augmented by a plethora of odd musical accompaniment, more akin to an neo-electronic version of old radio musical effects than a score, by done purposefully and wonderfully. The effect is hypnotizing and beautiful and occasionally annoying - all at the same time. The music deepened the effect of the show rather than simply providing accompaniment.
Helen Vinten brings Vanessa slowly to life. Vanessa is a young lady who refuses to let anyone in emotional, as she must to thrive. Adam Farrell and Luke Murphy bring the two young research assistants to life with staggering realism for such an oddly surrealistic play. In the later portions of the show, Adam Farrell handles more the acting and Luke Murphy handles more of the music, but both shine through equally.
Writing company Bucket Club accomplish quite a bit in Fossils. The show gains complexity, layering and emotional depth as the evening progresses. Director Nel Crouch handles the entire group with a quiet restraint, which is necessary to prevent the show from running into full on comedy. It has a very British sense of humor, dry and uncomfortable at times but always intelligent and thoughtful. With Fossils, 59E59 has a truly unusal gem on their hands (sorry - horrible pun).
Fossils | Playwright: Bucket Club | Director: Nell Crouch | Cast:  Helen Vinten, Adam Farrell, Luke Murphy | website

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