Friday, July 5, 2013

Review: (Toronto) Nobody's Idol (Fringe)

Idol spoof hits its mark
Even if the songs are way off key
by Christian Baines
With the show’s formulaic suspense and contrived judging system, a spoof of the Idol franchise practically writes itself, but that hasn’t stopped Alexandra Lean from attempting to capture its absurdities in Nobody’s Idol. 
Four hopefuls remain on television’s stagiest talent quest, hosted appropriately enough by Fame, an anthropomorphic concept given deliciously sleazy life by Jory Rossiter. A former child pageant star, a self-destructive rapper, a deranged star-stalker and girl whose fandom of Orphan Annie stretches a bit too far, all remain in the running. What follows is an absurd and suitably superficial examination of fame’s pitfalls and irresistible allure.
Lean skilfully weaves together the stories of the four wannabe stars, along with two judges facing their own crisis of fame (plus one who in true Idol fashion, serves no purpose at all). The few moments of pathos, when they land – particularly around the character of Frances/Annie (a scene-stealing Jajube Mandiela) – really suggest a work that could go on to life outside the Fringe.

With that said, there are some moments that still feel a bit improv hour. Take judge Ty Real’s psychic visits from dead celebrities for instance. Kevin Brathwaite is a decent impersonator, but the gag feels a bit overbeaten – though when it is finally connected back to the plot, the result is both touching and entertaining. 
Then, there’s that score. Now, it makes perfect sense to craft Idol as a musical, but the songs on show here are simply god-awful, and not in a catchy, disposable ‘will you please get out of my head?’ kind of way – which might have suited this tale. They just lumber through the script trying to find a connection to it. All is not lost. The lyrics do at least offer some degree of character and plot progression. But they’re undercut by the lack of a single memorable tune.
Nobody’s Idol makes a good shot of hitting a fairly easy satirical target, ideally suited to a high-energy crowd with a few drinks under their belt. If it can find that audience, it’s sure to be well-received, songs or no songs.
Oh, one last thing… Zombies? Only in the Fringe.
Duration: 90mins