Legal Tender consists of a series of nine narratively distinct but thematically linked vignettes executed as prose-in-performance pieces, meaning that the action unfolds with the aid of a narrator as well as other supporting characters who recount the events onstage and the inner thoughts of the protagonists. The stories —ranging from a solemn allegory about race to slapstick fare highlighting more pedestrian human foibles — highlight the often corrupting, sometimes comedic, and always inescapable impact of money on the hearts of men, not to mention its ability to reveal stark and unpleasant truths about human nature.
A fine five-member ensemble — Sharyce L. McElvane, Maya C. Oliver, Forest Rilling, Rachel Viele and Andrew White — brings these short tales to life with charm and wit, but the peculiar format of the storytelling may elicit mixed reactions from audiences.
Some will find it a clever way to illuminate the deeper meaning of the events portrayed and articulate the feelings of characters that often go unexpressed, or that remain implied, in traditional theater. I tended to find the effort distracting and occasionally pedantic, as if the performance — like a student production trying a bit too hard to impress — seemed overly enthralled by its own cleverness.
Running Time: 60 minutes.
Legal Tender plays through July 27, 2013, at Gearbox – 1021 7th Street NW, in Washington, DC. For performance times and to purchase tickets, visit the show’s Capital Fringe page.
2013 Capital Fringe Show Preview “Photo Gallery: Behind The Scenes at ‘Legal Tender’ Rehearsal” by Hunter Styles