THEATER REVIEW: ‘Pure Shock Value’ @NoneTooFragile by Kevin Kelly

Pure Shock Value

Thru  Sat 2/13

This is a bad-ass production at a bad-ass theatre! None Too Fragile theatre in Akron has established themselves as a no- bullshit, unpretentious, ball-busting company not afraid to go into the deep end of the pool. This current production is a perfect example of letting go of the roller coaster handle bars and throw your hands up in the air because you just don’t care.

Obviously, author Matt Pelfrey is, or knows someone who is, pissed off at the  film festival circuit. This diatribe railing against everything pretentious about the honored cult hip few, and the system where crap sells if you can make it smell different is on full tilt in the back room of Pub Bricco.

NTF co-founder/artistic director Sean Derry directs this piece with wild abandon and ferocious tenacity. He doesn’t let his actors miss one moment of pure adrenaline and focus. It’s all accomplished with deft staging. He has produced one awesome trainwreck of absolute joy.

The four actors who inhabit this world are fabulous and at the top of their game. The calmest, if there is a calm in this crazy show, is Brian Kenneth Armour as Ethan. With beautifully understated humor and timing, he gives a down-to-earth quality to Ethan, but allows himself to make us believe that what he plans on doing sometimes is OK. You find yourself laughing at things you shouldn’t. A lot of that is the solid acting taking place with this talented man.

Robert Branch as Julian Quintana resembles Weekend at Bernie’s on crack. His physicality must be incredibly challenging to execute and he does it brilliantly. With indecipherable syllables, Branch makes the most of his vulnerable position and executes great comedic timing. His final declaration of truth almost sends the audience into doing the wave throughout the theater, screaming “Hell Yeah”.

Obviously Sophia Vergara has a sister, who is a sexy hot bitch named Gabby. Alanna Romansky (co-founder/artistic director), brings Gabby some fierce internal fire. She chews more scenery with her accent than a college town of carpenter ants on spring break at the white party. With her sexy curves, comedic chops, and having more balls than all the men in the audience, she is fierce.

But the pinnacle of this production is Benjamin Gregorio as Tex. Picture Matthew McConaughey doing an 8-ball and then giving the performance of his life. It’s a nonstop full-speed neck-brace performance in which he stays within the lines of the road, and takes everyone along with him for a scary wild ride. This is his debut at None Too Fragile, and there is nothing remotely fragile about this actor’s intrinsic acting choices. He has to be exhausted after this and so is the audience, because Gregorio makes us pay attention and emotionally takes us on a ride with him, whether you want to or not. Brilliant Work!

This is not a show you take your mother to on Mother’s Day, which is why you need to get to this theater, take a shot of Jameson with the crowd, and get ready to rock and roll. I can assure you, you will never guess what is going to happen next. It is rough and vulgar, but oh so sweet.

For ticket and show information go to nonetoofragile.com.