SALT LAKE CITY — As my first show at the Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival, Stalled did not disappoint.
In Stalled, a girl rushes into the bathroom in the middle of an apparent panic attack. She is soon joined by her friend (dressed as a bunny rabbit), who briefly talked her down until the anxiety-ridden girl’s boyfriend Ollie appears.
Billed as a collaborative effort by stars McKenzie Steele Foster, Shawn Francis Saunders, Alexander Woods, and Amy Ware, the show is a lovely, graceful little piece of theater that shows far more than tells. Fans of conventional storytelling may find themselves lost in waves of metaphor, absurdism, and subtleties, but I found it best to let such waves wash over me so that I could enjoy these pieces for what they are.
All of the actors played with in their roles naturally and honestly despite the nebulous script. Foster’s panicking was never too forced or heightened even with the Tourette’s-like shoulder tick she carried through most of the action. I found myself identifying profoundly with her character: a massive feat in merely 45 minutes.
As the bunny rabbit party girl, Ware was bright, bubbly, vivacious, and ferocious, guiding her friend through her panic with deftness and a skillful combination of sweetness and comedy that I found endearing.
Some favorite elements of the show were the dream state sequences featuring a silent and playful clown portrayed by Saunders. Stephen Sondheim‘s mournful and ironic song “Send in the Clowns” filled the sequences, the pale blue light a lovely complement to the music and movement. It was my favorite metaphor of the peace, and one that could have been cloying but for me rested on moving. Another element I found entertaining was the canned sitcom crowd reactions that punctuated the scenes, manipulating emotion and cropping up when the characters least expected it. It was effective and well-planned, and I enjoyed it.
Stalled was all at once a buoyant, delightful, and poignant piece, and it should certainly be a part of your Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival experience.