The trick and trouble of creating a long-form program from a series of theater exercises is that the narrative material centers on the actor as content. This means that what's being presented has already been lived and is therefore not living onstage at the moment.
It is storytelling, which is the antithesis of theater: relating the past, rather than creating a present. And this is what makes It Might Be Okay just OK. But this is the Fringe — so it is OK. Maybe.
The program establishes that the cast has developed a series of segments exploring the myth of being a young American in the present century. What’s offered are stories you would expect from a collective of attractive college-age performers: the deaths of grandparents, the breakup of young-love relationships, acknowledgment of a parent’s wisdom, being made to look foolish in middle school.
The feelings are real enough, but they seem to weigh heavier with the cast than the audience, due in large part to the emotions being worn after the fact.
The show opens and ends with a familiar refrain from a famous Nirvana song (actually, a Tori Amos song), and what parades in between is a series of slam-style poems, personal anecdotes, some humorous break dancing and a few inspired physical moments such as a rainstorm of water bottles that shower down on a cast member holding a clear umbrella.
What’s missing most from It Might Be Okay is personality. There’s young ambition and attitude and anger against the status quo, but this is an ensemble piece that allows its members to meld too completely. There’s the underlying argument for individuality, but the very shape of the show doesn’t champion its own cause.
One actor identifies his name outright; the rest are left to be anonymous. I’ve never left a show realizing how important it is for a character to have a name onstage.
That might be this show’s singular gap. It wants to tell the myth of being young in our country, in our time. But a myth is a story that centers on a name.
Performed at Gabriel's Corner through June 6. See performance dates and preview here.
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