2016 Capital Fringe Review: ‘Medieval Story Man’

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In an ambitious undertaking by Red Knight Productions, Medieval Story Man takes you on a quest with elf-boy Todd and his rag-tag group of companions to save Medieval Story Land from the Dark Wizards of Dark Wizard City and the terrible Black Dark Blackness; all, if you can imagine it, as performed by one man.

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Written and directed by Scott Courlander, Medieval Story Man is headed in the right direction to creating those magical forests, wizard’s castles, and grand courts of kings out of nothing but the movements of Stephen Mead. Fluidly blocked throughout much of the show, Courlander’s direction allowed Mead to move in and out of his different characters without having to physically jump. But as is the challenge with any one man show, keeping up with the production’s direction physically and vocally had its moments where one or both didn’t quite sync-up and I found myself a bit lost in the woods as it were. Revisiting the more jumpy staging might help smooth out a few of those moments.

Completing this impressive feet all the same was Stephan Mead playing well over 16 characters. His strengths in character acting shone throughout and were particularly highlighted in his portrayal of the Troll and elf-boy Todd. Here Mead picked very distinct voices and accompanied them by a specific posture that the character always took when speaking. The Troll was hunched over with a gruff accent while Todd was wide eyed, truthful to a fault at times, and a master at delivering those relaxed one-liners that teenagers are known all to well for. These techniques were especially key when close to a dozen of Mead’s characters were in the same scene. With a little more focus on the mannerism, the more character filled moments could be clearer, stronger, and cleaner.

For all the adventuring and action this Medieval Story Land brought us, Medieval Story Man was cleverly set on a small black stage with a small black back-drop and two lighting stands shining blue stage right and red stage left. With stage management by Beccah Lewis, the simple and understated setting let our imaginations fill in the rest. Where we were picturing the battles, the red lighting seemed almost like blood and when a few of the fearless band were swallowed by the Black Dark Blackness, the soft blue light somehow made the scene feel calm.

Recommended for all ages but in particular the young or the young at heart, Medieval Story Man allows you to cheer for good, fight against evil, and explore the wide expanse of Medieval Story Land from the comfort of your own seat.

Running Time: 75 minutes with no intermission.

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Medieval Story Man is playing through July 20, 2016 at MLK Jr. Memorial Library – 901 G Street NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call (866) 811-4111, or purchase them online.

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Check other reviews and show previews on DCMetroTheaterArts’ 2016 Capital Fringe Page.

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