Martini and Olive: Torn Between Two Love Handles

cabaret & variety · buzzworks theater company · Ages 10+ · United States

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June 22, 2011

My overall impression

Tony Frankel, theatre critic for Stage and Cinema here.

Back in the 90s, there was a very successful musical entitled NO MINIMUM, in which two actors spoofed lounge acts with such sincerity and restrained zaniness that we actually believed these acts to be real.

At this year’s Hollywood Fringe, MARTINI AND OLIVE (played by Michael Halpin and Judy Heneghan) is an over-the-top lounge act that celebrates the silly over the authentic. Although there are moments of truly inspired lunacy (such as the Swizzle Stick Dancers’ POPCORN number), the clearly rehearsed mistakes, pratfalls and asides verged on the inane. As such, it felt like a Saturday Night Live sketch that wore out its welcome. Of course, there was remarkable talent on board: clever medleys, terrific costumes and funny choreography kept our attention, but there was little in the way of intelligent satire. It was a bludgeoning of glitter and polyester.

There aint nothing wrong with cheesy fun – would that the direction were more sophisticated and the set-up wasn’t loaded with incongruencies (i.e., an obviously horrible act has to have TWO security guards blocking the audience from them). This was exactly the kind of show one would see at a Cabaret in the 1980s, which is fine, but in a theatre setting, I wish that Martini and Olive had played against type. If they don’t, I fear it’s a lifetime of Fringe for this very very silly outing.

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