Fringe 2015 review: "Village Ax"

Peachy Keen Productions' Village Ax at the 2015 Orlando Fringe
Peachy Keen Productions' Village Ax at the 2015 Orlando Fringe

Did you ever want to disappear? To escape the buzzing static of our technology-driven life and find sanctuary somewhere safe … like, say, a commune of honey-drinking dropouts living in hexagonal huts who are led by a geriatric gym teacher? If that sounds like a sound plan to you, “Village Ax” should be your perfect piece of avant-garde insanity.  

The show starts with solo performer Sydney Hayduck (she wrote the script with Elsa Reesor-Taylor) waking up to a wild techno dance number, and things just get weirder from there. Hayduck alternately inhabits Charlie, a self-destructive social media minion who vanishes into a utopian village; Coach Ax, the gravel-voiced Village elder; and Annie, Ax’s 8-year-old granddaughter who hides a honeycombed universe inside her bedroom wall. As the metaphysical nature of Charlie’s situation comes into focus, so does the shape of time itself: not a line or a circle, but a hexagon through which light endlessly refracts upon itself.

Confused yet? Relax. This ambitiously off-kilter experiment in storybook magic realism has more than its share of WTF moments: multiple outbreaks of interpretive hip-hop; inspirational lectures on how shitty life is; extended sequences when Hayduck has conversations with herself, jumping back and forth between each line. By any sane standard, it shouldn’t work, but Hayduck is so committed to her story that I couldn’t help being sucked in. With her expressive eyes framed by boyish bangs, Hayduck nearly hypnotized her preview audience with a performance that was by turns sincere, slyly satirical, and slapstick.

There’s a full festival's worth of strange in this show, but there’s also a sweetly soulful message about our species’ common dysfunction: the failure to recognize sacred moments as they pass by. "Village Ax" is an only-at-Fringe experience that’s sure to earn some serious buzz.

"Village Ax"
Peachy Keen Productions - Winnipeg, Canada
Venue: Purple
Length: 60 minutes
Rating: 7 and up
Price: $10 

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