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Orlando Fringe Review: The Ride-Along

May 21, 2014
The Ride-Along at 2014 Orlando Fringe

The Ride-Along at 2014 Orlando Fringe

Taking the Fringe’s “bring your own venue” concept to an exciting new extreme, The Ride-Along invites two (or three) audience members into the back seat of a beater car for an interactive spy spoof with the whole Ivanhoe neighborhood as its stage. Viewers volunteer to become new recruits in a super-secret law enforcement outfit that operates out of the local Wendy’s, observing as Agent Lopez (writer-director Jose Perez IV on my ride-along) and Agent D (Clare Ghezzi during my training) engage in fisticuffs with nefarious thugs in negligees (Virgil Rodriguez, Manuel Graves) and commit the occasional drive-by complimenting.

The production’s parodic tone — complete with an exposition-dishing Sergeant (Hastings Henderson), absurd McGuffin plot, and oddball musical interludes — owes a nod to the Police Squad/The Naked Gun series, with all the performers doing a good job of staying in character amid the al fresco chaos (especially our driver, Ghezzi, who did a remarkable job reciting dialogue while driving public streets). The fight scenes, all expertly choreographed by Perez and slickly synchronized to sound effects played over the car’s stereo, were satisfyingly brutal in the chop-socky style.

Ride-Along‘s story, involving the theft of secret files and an agent’s unusual phobia, isn’t especially compelling, but as a longtime proponent of site-specific theater I was thrilled by the overall experience. I’d love to see Ride-Along evolve and return with a more complex, serious script, but until then this is a ride well worth taking. The only problem is that the rest of the run is sold out, so all you can do is show up in front of the Shakes before a show and ask if the ticketholders will allow you to sit it the middle seat. It’s a tight squeeze, but you won’t regret it…unless you’re susceptible to carsickness; in that case, skip it for your fellow passengers’ sake.

Length: 55 minutes
Venue: BYOV (meet in front of Orlando Shakes)
Price: $10 (+svc. Charge)
Disc.: FA | FV | STU | SR | MIL | Police & Fire department members
Rating: 13+ -

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