Let’s get this out of the way: The Bradford Güild’s Crime Buster Blast-Off 3000 (Yeah!) is a hot mess. The plot (supposedly based on a poem written by Writer/Director Ian McDermott when he was 9) is deliberately nonsensical, the singing mostly awful, and the humor obtuse. It’s a 70 minute inside joke with a Fringe budget.
All of which makes it so painful that there are some real gems floating around in the production. As Tobby, McDermott leads the cast with a Jim-Jones-like ferocity that projects utter conviction in the material. The rest of the cast (Matt Hagerty, Mason Trappio, and Alex Zito) are equally charismatic, if less intense. The costumes, from velour track suits to animal masks to the striped leotard, are extremely well-executed. The last song of the production is legitimately catchy.
But the show wanders. At 70 minutes, Crime Buster is probably two to three times as long as the material deserves. Most of the rambling monologues aren’t funny enough to justify their inclusion, and the musical numbers are neither entertaining nor enlightening. On the other hand, the scene transitions are absolutely brilliant and the cast makes fantastic use of their limited lighting effects. And when the production moves to the truly bizarre – repeated sound cues, action loops, and the weirdly drawn out, implosive ending – Crime Buster shows signs of Andy Kaufmanesque greatness.
For now, though, they’re merely signs. Crime Buster Blast-Off 3000 (Yeah!) is a frustrating story of avant garde might-have-been. Or, to be optimistic, still-might-be.
Running Time: Crime Buster Blast-Off 3000 (Yeah!) is 70 minutes long.
Crime Buster Blast-Off 3000 (Yeah!) plays through July 28, 2013 at Gearbox -1021 7th Street NW, 3rd Floor, in Washington, DC. For performance times and to purchase tickets, visit the show’s Capital Fringe page.