Orlando Fringe Review: Smooch
Pantomime is one of the most difficult theatrical skills to master. If you’re not well-versed in its delicate balance of physical comedy, tenderness and subtle storytelling, you probably shouldn’t attempt it. Unfortunately, the normally reliable PB&J Theatre Factory (Sport and Sleigh) apparently didn’t fully understand that before undertaking their latest Fringe adventure, Smooch, which, though well-intentioned, is a mostly tedious and unfunny spectacle not worthy of the group’s talent.
Brandon Roberts, Terrence Yip, Becky Eck, Todd Zimmerman and Ana Eligio play five Cupids tasked with creating love between a couple (Mike Carr and Julie Snyder) at various stages of their life, from the children’s playground to old age. In a broader sense, the couple represents all humanity, and the 55-minute play depicts the arc of existence, while offering a humorous peek at what the gods have to do behind the scenes to keep romance alive.
It’s a good premise and contains a touching scene near the end. But the moments of audience involvement are just plain awkward and drag the play’s pace to a crawl, while the inability of everyone except Roberts to grasp the nuances of silent comedy makes Smooch a painful experience at times. Clearly inspired by French actor-director Jacques Tati (Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday), Smooch has all of Tati’s tedium, some of his sweetness and too little of his talent.