Fringe 2018 – “Midnight Menagerie” is Outlandish Fun
What happens when a Mafioso boss-turned-screenwriter meets the self-involved and backstabbing Hollywood elite? Midnight Menagerie: full of laughter, murder, and lots of vomit!
On the night of his film’s premiere, Guiseppe Bloomingo invites the Hollywood movers and shakers responsible for changing his vision to celebrate at his home. Little do the entertainment professionals know, Guiseppe has concocted an elaborate plan with the help of his maid, Rose, to exact bloody revenge. Who will escape Guiseppe’s wrath and make it through the night alive?
The Bardic Bastards’ Midnight Menagerie is a farcical dark comedy with plenty of adult language and bloody pandemonium – and it’s a hell of a lot of fun. From the get-go, Guiseppe establishes himself as no stranger to punishing people with bad manners, as he brings in a cat-caller for Rose to dispatch of. Struggling to get rid of the body before the guests arrive, Rose promises to go along with Guiseppe’s plan for revenge – no matter what. As the guests trickle in, we become a fly on the wall, primed to witness the chaos that will ensue, anxiously waiting to see what Guiseppe and Rose have in store.
As Midnight Menagerie builds to its crescendo, Guiseppe informs his guests that they have all been poisoned, except for one who ingested the antidote. They now have to figure out who is truly doomed, who has the antidote, and worst of all… How do they get it?
The Hollywood characters are so intentionally over-the-top and absurd (it’s no wonder Guiseppe has it out for them all), and the audacious cast dives into their crass roles with aplomb. Among those relishing in the grotesque: Michael Callas (as Harvey Weinstein-like Ari) is bombastic and disreputable; Kelly Washington (as aging actress Marilyn) is appropriately arrogant and desperate to reclaim her glory days; understudy Katy Wicker (as hard-as-nails agent Gretchen) tries to stay in charge of her surroundings with sneering insults; and Niko Papastefanou (as Erol, a throwback to producers in the ‘50s) is sarcastically charming and the easiest “villain” to root for. Tom Vohasek’s bizarre turn as Ari’s lawyer Salsman is as off-putting as I’m sure was intended. Manny Rodriguez (Guiseppe) and Kailin Ruby (Rose) are smart, calculated and in charge when the night goes up in flames. The entire cast bounces off each other well in an energetic sparring match, meeting each other jab for jab.
Writer/director Brandon Nicholas Pfeltz’s Midnight Menagerie is an outrageous adult romp, hilarious but not for everyone; those with delicate sensibilities should steer clear of purchasing a ticket. However, for audiences that can be in on the joke and enjoy the ludicrous plot and ridiculous characters, definitely give this show a shot!