2017 Philadelphia Fringe Festival Review: ‘(insert thoughts here)’ by Bradley’s Bucks at Franky Bradley’s

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In a delectable mash-up of the 2017 Fringe with an extended Restaurant Week, Franky Bradley’s gives festival-goers the option of enjoying dinner while attending the latest all-new offering by its all-male resident dance troupe Bradley’s Bucks, as dancers Tommy Schimmel, Teddy Fatscher, William Burden, Misha King, and Jake Van Horn (who just joined the herd) invite us to (insert thoughts here). Not being one to decline a fabulous invitation, I will.

Promotional image with Tommy Schimmel. Photo courtesy of the artists.
Promotional image with Tommy Schimmel. Photo courtesy of the artists.

Produced and co-created by Dave Morreale, a decadent night of feasting and entertainment awaits those who choose the full dinner/theater experience (there is also a show-only ticket). If you indulge in the whole immersive package, you will savor a lavish three-course menu, designed by Head Chef Dave Kane (and accommodating any dietary restrictions you might have), before the Bucks’ tantalizing performance takes you through the looking glass, into altered states of perception, hallucinatory experiences, disturbed imaginings, and pan-sexual reverie. Dressed in costumes that evoke the styles of Cabaret, Victorian Goth, and post-modern burlesque, the beguiling Christa D’Agger and Tom Schmitt serve as hosts of both the banquet and the show, presenting the audience with copious amounts of luscious food and drinks, joining in lively conversation at the long candlelit table, and offering comic interludes of direct-address commentary throughout the evening.

Combining expressive movement with acrobatics and dance, the Bucks’ imaginative performance explores feelings of both euphoria and anguish in the context of male camaraderie and the spirit of “boys will be boys,” as a group of five street-smart Millennials get together, get high, get stupid, and get transported from their everyday reality into a compelling series of psycho-physical situations. Set to an original emotive score composed specifically for the piece by Sal Dragone, the dancers’ moods and movements are well-coordinated with the soundscape, in episodes that evoke the fun of indulging in recreational drugs, the sadistic methods used in the treatment of the mentally ill, the disorienting effects of insomnia, and the seduction of homo-erotic fantasies. The alluring ensembles makes clever use of a tilting and spinning mattress, aerial silks, plastic gallons of water, full-length mirrors, a hose that emits smoke, and a rotating tabletop, all bathed in a mysterious red light that enhances the dreamlike vision.

How to interpret the redolent scenes of (insert thoughts here) is unique to each individual who attends, but everyone should agree that Bradley’s Bucks has once again raised the bar with another of its intriguing works.

Running Time: Approximately one hour and 20 minutes (without dinner), including an intermission.

(insert thoughts here) plays through Thursday, September 21, 2017, at Bradley’s Bucks, performing at Franky Bradley’s – 1320 Chancellor Street, 2nd floor, Philadelphia, PA. For tickets, call the Fringe box office at (215) 413-9006, or purchase them online.