Audience engagement, hilarious comedy, unwavering satire, and Talia Brava.
What I didn't like
The production abandons several chances to become something greater. Details below.
My overall impression
A true satire of inspiration cults, this production explores the lurking issues behind Tony Robbins while engaging the audience brilliantly.
From first step into the theater you are surrounded by the familiar spectacle of a motivational seminar. Like a summer camp on crack for adults, the team is jumping around, smiling vividly, and welcoming the audience. It’s pure fun.
The play continues following the story arc of such an event. We get to know Talia Brava, her team, and some people whose lives she’s changed, and several audience members find their own transformation.
This play is hilarious, everyone should go. It’s new, fresh, and contains truly believable though ridiculous characters. I heard one audience member going on about how this will surely be one of the “sleeper hits” of Fringe.
Now for the issues.
After years of being involved in Theater I’ve come to recognize some patterns when a production is written, directed, and starred by one person. Sometimes avoidable, when a good actor (Lucia Brizzi) has all these roles, her character (Talia Brava) will take too much control.
From the beginning there are hints of sinister. One team member is suicidally in-love with Talia, another hates her, her boyfriend is pathetic, an audience member comes out alleging stolen copyright material! But all of these challenges fall flat. Talia crushes them efficiently and continues forward while the audience wants nothing more than to see her crushed. And then perhaps rise again, more compassionate than before.
All of these invitations that Lucia wrote, these opportunities to form narrative (or at least thematic) arc, are surrendered. While demanding transformation of the audience and of her team, Talia cannot lower herself.
I hope in further iterations Lucia can regain control and allow the sinister action to come to climax. But either way you will leave this production feeling alive, maybe a little changed, and certainly more skeptical of Tony Robbins.