by Joan Kane · March 3, 2014
Key of E arrived at the Frigid New York festival from Orlando, Florida. Produced by Dark Side of Saturn, the music, lyrics, story and direction are by Andy Matchett; script by Corey Volence. It was the winner of 11 Audience Choice Awards at the Orlando International Fringe Festival including Best of the Fringe. This is an entertaining show with music and puppets. It is partly a love story and partly a reflection on the actions we take. It is also an apocalyptic rock musical in the style of Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson.Lead character Ethan is a twenty-something hedonistic, disenfranchised white male who is tired of today’s society and gets drunk at a bar and sings “I just can’t wait for the game to end, so we can start all over again.” Corey Volence plays Ethan with moves like Elvis Presley; his singing voice is powerful and melodic. His girlfriend, played by the beautiful and talented Marisa Quijano has to drag him home from the bar. On the way a tsunami washes Florida away leaving Ethan stranded on a desert island strewn with items from Walmart. A handful of weirdly iconic misfits appear such as Hipsters, Punks, Office Workers, Pretty Ladies and Men with Muscles. Amanda Warren, Chaz Krivan, John Bateman, Scott Kerill, Justin Jones, Ethan Earls, Sara Gray bring this strange crew to life as a solid ensemble. The Narrator, played by Andy Matchett helps us follow the action by breaking the fourth wall to include us in on the pop-culture jokes. Early on we learn that these characters are only figments of Ethan’s psyche. Add to this mix a giant, bony-fingered puppet Creature played by Scott Kerill, who represents Ethan’s anti-social behavior. If Ethan is to put his fractured psyche back together again he must confront and defeat this demon puppet.
The original music is perfectly sung by this tightly knit, well-rehearsed cast. The puppets included: Jeep, Fire Magic and the Creature, are expertly constructed and manipulated by Evan & Christine Miga of Dog Powered Robot.The overall production is a little rough around the edges, which, in this case, gives the evening a certain roguish charm. Outside of a “tidal wave” floor drop that becomes the detritus of ruined civilization on the deserted island, there is not much transforming of the space. The exuberant rock music carries us along, moving the story forward and separating not only the scenes, but also the Ethan character’s view of reality.
I enjoyed Key of E and found myself laughing at the jokes and tapping my foot to the rock beat.