Theatre Review: “Where Heroes Come to Play”


Note: This review was posted on the KC Stage review system.

“Most Extreme Ocean Adventure”, written, directed, and produced by Ryan Cockerham (part of the KC Fringe Festival). First produced 2011. (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.

Part of the set. Photo by Rich 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. For more information, visit the KC Fringe Festival website.

Read all of my Fringe reviews here

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