*Cough* Okay. Yes, I love movies and video games are my passion, but theatre is my job. If video games are a nice home cooked meal, and movies are fast food, then Broadway shows are a fine dining experience; something that I don't have all too often, but are usually worth it... or they would be if this season wasn't a boring, uninteresting one.
Broadway shows are a different kind of beast to review, because while there are a massive amount of shows on Broadway now, most of them aren't new. At least 20% of the shows on Broadway right now have opened this year, and you can probably be damned sure that by the same time next year most of those shows won't be around anymore. So that's why when I see a Broadway show, I make damned sure that it'll be worth my time and money. Or sometimes I can see shows for free, and when I see a show that's free that has tickets that can go up to $100, there's no way in hell that I won't see it.
Why did I go off on a tangent like that? Well because today's show of choice, Big Fish, was a show that I didn't have to pay a cent to see, and is closing before the end of the year. It's always a shame to see a show close, but in the case of Big Fish, it's not hard to see why.
|field of daffodils = insane pollen allergies|
Our main character, Edward Bloom, is a man that's led a very interesting life. He was the most popular kid in high school, traveled around with a giant, joined a circus, found his true love while working at the circus, and has done a whole lot of unbelievable feats that no one knows whether they're true or not. And when his son finds out he has cancer, his son tries to unravel the mystery of who his father really is and whether his stories are true or not. All the while, Edward slowly starts to die, but he knows he won't die of cancer because when he was a teenager, a witch showed him exactly how he'd die, and Edward knows that he's not going to die of cancer.
The concept is actually a really interesting one. We want to know exactly who Edward is and exactly what is real and what's a lie about his stories. When he says he met a giant and traveled around with him, we see a fantasized version of him, and then towards the end we see the actual giant and why Edward talked about him as a more stereotypical giant. Seeing connections like that is fascinating and you want to see why each character Edward talks about is said like that.
|I never knew the unabomber was in this play|
So while the plot may have some good ideas with a confusing execution, at least it does hit an emotional chord. When Edward's cancer progresses and he gets closer to dying, we really do see how his wife, his son, his son's wife, and even old friends react to it. Act 2 is much more emotional and less about amazing fantasy sequences, which in this show works. When it needs to be serious and emotional, the show stops its fantasies and focuses on the emotional connections between them very nicely.
The same can't be said for the songs though. A musical like this should enchant a person and have them be mesmerized by the outlandish scenarios and characters, but instead the songs are just underwhelming and, dare I say, not memorable. I can't think of a single song that has stayed in my head since then, which is never a good sign of a musical. The songs have no significant weight to them, and that's especially true during the fantasies, where the songs is just there because they needed a song to justify making a fantasy there. I know some people may disagree with that, but out of all of the songs, no one them stand out in my a head. That's one of the many difficulties with reviewing a musical in particular, since each person has their own taste in music and that will certainly affect how a person sees that show. I just so happen to find the songs uninteresting and pure fluff.
|Big Fish visually is great to look at... at times.|