Theatre Review: “Where Heroes Come to Play”

review

“Most Extreme Ocean Adventure”, written and produced by Ryan Cockerham (part of the KC Fringe Festival): seen July 26, 2011

Ryan Cockerham, the writer and performer of “Most Extreme Ocean Adventure”, gives a short introduction to his piece, stating that the Fringe program description he had provided didn’t really do the production justice – that it is at its core an allegory, that if art serves as a message, it should be considered a warning.

The program definition (and in fact, the description Cockerham had sent to me directly in his goal to get the show reviewed) made it sound like it was going to be a commentary on reality TV as well as how America views Christopher Columbus. And his introduction is right – that’s nowhere near what I got in this piece, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Most Extreme Ocean Adventure photo
Photo by Richard Sutton

“Where decency ends, the adventure begins.” A one man show, it’s actually two productions in one. On the one hand, we have the reality TV show of Christopher Columbus going for glory, picking up three ‘celebrities’ along the way and facing three challenges. This, however, is interspersed with three tonal/mood pieces, each a different aspect of a relationship. The piece as a whole delves into how fear and doubt can control us, and how “that which we are, we are”.

I don’t know if it was because of it being my 11th Fringe show on my fifth day or if it was because I did have different expectations going in, but I found the show a little hard to follow. While Cockerham does a fine job (both as the exuberant ‘host’ of the TV show as well as the presenter of the segments), and the tonal poems especially are beautiful pieces of spoken word, I almost asked him afterwards for a script just to get a better idea of what the heck I just watched.

For example, it wasn’t until the second “challenge” that I realized that the discussion in the first segment of Alexander the Great during the first challenge (of a castaway that Columbus had to decide whether to pick up or not) was because Alexander WAS the castaway.

It’s an intriguing, thought-provoking piece, but I felt like I would need a PhD to figure out what it was all about.

“No guts, no glory – and today we had plenty of guts.” The scene changes back and from ‘commercial’ (i.e., the tonal pieces) were a beat or two too long, but I loved the music used in both sections, the background during the ‘game’ a combination of the type of music you get in edutainment TV shows and online games.

There weren’t many people in the audience when I went to this, and it’s a shame as this show has potential. But a head’s up if you do go to bring your thinking caps, as I felt I wasn’t mentally equipped to deal with it. “Most Extreme Ocean Adventure” plays two more times, and tickets are $8. More information can be found at http://www.kcfringe.org/2011/artist.php?ID=62.

This review has been posted to the KC Stage review system. Agree or disagree? You can rate / review this show yourself (requires free registration) by going to fringe.kcstage.com (where every review gets you put into a drawing for prizes).