IMPORTANT NOTE: We cannot certify this reviewer attended a performances of this show because no ticket was purchased through this website or the producer has not verified they attended.
My overall impression
I really wanted to like this show. I really did. On the surface It’s the Prom has everything you would hope for in a Fringe show. It is a risky experiment in theater mounted by a group of adventurous young performers. Sadly, the experiment just doesn’t work.
Ostensibly a parody of the 80s teen comedy genre, the piece appears to be largely improvised around an outline of a plot with a few preset gags. (I attended a preview and was not given a program so I do not know if there is a playwright. If the show is fully scripted then it is poorly so.) This results in many awkward pauses where nobody is quite sure who should be driving the scene or what they should do next. In fact, most character interactions seemed to be about how to disengage from each other.
The characters are very thinly drawn. John Hughes’ characters may have been stereotypes but they were grounded and fully fleshed. Here we are served up “Nerd Girl”, “Closeted Gay Bestie”, “Jock”, etc. Aside from a few basic wants we learn very little about these characters. Even a recurring pre-recorded inner-monologue gag seems to have been improvised at the mic and wastes a perfect opportunity to make everyone more fully realized.
The “interactive” part of the performance involves audience members being recruited as chaperones and candidates for prom king and queen. During pre-show and intermission actors attempt to strike up conversations with the audience. But, the manner in which this is done places much of the burden of keeping up the “reality” upon the audience instead of drawing them into the world of the prom. It’s a tricky gambit but one I’ve seen pulled off successfully in other shows.
The actors, overall, lack seasoning. Blocking was mostly non-existent with actors upstaging themselves often and at least one with “happy feet”. There seems to be a “meet cute” at prom between characters who have presumably been classmates for at least three or four years already. There are characters on stage who seem to serve no real purpose in the purported “plot” except to maybe make the prom appear less sparsely attended.
Since this prom is set in 1985 you would expect a non-stop stream of mid-eighties pop and you would be correct. However, the loudness of the music combined with a lack of projection from the actors made much of the dialogue difficult to hear.
I imagine the show’s creators envisioned something along the lines of “Tony & Tina’s Wedding” and I would like to applaud them for their willingness to take a risk. In fact, I found myself thinking that with a little more development and really sharp, experienced improvisers that It’s the Prom could amount to something. It is my sincerest hope that these enthusiastic young artists keep working on it.