Strips, Episode 6: Skipping Origins

Ian Huffam

Every year at Fringe, there are genre spoofs. The genres involved change from year to year, but a solid example comes with Strips, Episode 6: Skipping Origins: there is a clear genre in play (superhero comics, with a heavy dose of the 1960s Batman TV show), and it is mediocre at best.

The story takes the form of a presumably unpopular schoolboy presenting the comic book he drew to his class. As he narrates, the events of the comic book come to life: in a generic metropolis the fearless (but worryingly sex-obsessed) Jack the Jump (whose power is super-speed) faces off against his nemesis, the evil (but not really) telepath Dr. Do. There are the requisite side characters: Jack’s non-super powered and sweetly bland girlfriend Jane, as well as Dr. Do’s shape-shifting Russian femme fatale lady-love. Dr. Do also has a minion who has no lines but wears a sparkly black skirt (despite being a large male), making flamboyant arm motions, and smiling creepily at the audience. A psychic visited by Jack and Jane earlier in the story comes back as a major character, and other key side roles are played by yet another actor. It’s a larger than ideal cast for a Fringe show, but the simplicity of the story does help to make up for it: it’s a typical superhero adventure, so no plot explanation is necessary.

The dialogue is funny and surprisingly witty at times, but the inconsistent pace of the actors doesn’t always allow this to shine through. Many jokes rely on interplay between spoken lines and pre-recorded ones, resulting in more sound cues than productions many times its size. The performance this review is based on did experience some miscalled cues, but with the total number being so high this was almost inevitable.

Despite the pacing issues, the acting is consistently solid. There is one performer in this show whose performance is absolutely flawless: because there was no program I unfortunately do not know his name, but the young man who plays the awkward, nerdy schoolboy narrator could not have been more perfect. It’s a type, but he plays it well and if I ever do find who he is I’ll be sure to post it here. Hilary Peck’s sultry Russian accent matches Will Lafrance’s single-mindedness as Dr. Do ideally, and the creepy minion admittedly does get some good laughs.

Like any genre spoof, this show doesn’t offer much food for thought but does make for good entertainment – when it entertains.

 

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