Thursday, March 20, 2014

REVIEW: Fight Club: The Musical

The first rule of Fight Club: The Musical — well, you probably know. “Don't make Fight Club into a musical.” As I'm sure you also know, they did. “They” being writer, director, lyricist, composer, choreographer and producer Keith Davidson. Locally, his musical adaptation recently unfolded in an open-air production in Five Points Park. And quickly folded again.

Davidson, the artistic director of NYC's Theatre in an Isododecahedron (and former director of Brooklyn's Puppet Theatre of Cruelty), remained more or less faithful to the story — or at least David Fincher's 1999 film adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's novel. The plot? “A ticking-time-bomb insomniac and a slippery soap salesman channel primal male aggression into a shocking new form of therapy. Their concept catches on, with underground ‘fight clubs’ forming in every town, until an eccentric gets in the way and ignites an out-of-control spiral toward oblivion.” Thus spake Anonymous on IMDB. Being lazy, I copied and pasted it.

The film's storyline survived, though hardly recognizable, as portrayed by the anorexic, singing, dancing cast in choreography blatantly ripped off from Jerome Robbins bits in West Side Story. (I guess Davidson's lazy, too.)  Happy routines for an acid-burn story. The effect is jarring, like hearing Steve Martin playing the Death March on the banjo. The problem is tonal, as the song titles alone prove:

Support Group Fever
Ikea. I Just Built Some Crap from Ikea.
I’m a Beautiful Snowflake!
Operation Disco Mayhem
There’s No Business Like Soap Business
Who is Tyler Durden?
It's a Guy Thing!

Perhaps there was a satiric intent? I can only speculate, as the play was cut short. During the scene where the Robert Paulsen character (portrayed by the man-jugged Meatloaf in the original film) was crushed by a dislodged spherical sculpture, a demolition charge, in fact, detonated at the base of Rob Lorenson's "Sarasota Deco" sculpture, sending the giant steel donut hurtling into the assembled theatergoers. The crowd successfully ducked, with the exception of Charlize Theron (a visiting friend of the director) who, inexplicably, ran directly in front of the slowly rolling, metal wheel and didn't get out of the way until it ran over her, deflating two lip implants. At this point, an actual fight broke out in the park, resulting in the loss of two of my back molars and much destruction of homeless property. Sarasota police officers detained Davidson (who was now screaming "I am Tyler Durden! Project Mayhem begins!"). Based on a tip called in by Steve Martin, the bomb squad successfully removed demolition charges implanted in surrounding highrises. Which reminds me of the second rule of Fight Club: The Musical ...

Don't make Fight Club into a musical.

Fight Club: The Musical was partially performed, March 16, at Five Points Park in Sarasota. Visit for more information.

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