Orlando Fringe 2022 review: 'A Different Kind of MaryJayne'

If a local theme park produced a pandemic-skewering streetmosphere act, it might look like this.

The pandemic pitched countless performing artists’ careers into pandemonium, and you can count New York native writer-director MaryJayne Waddell and her Broadway veteran friends among the many victims. Waddell’s new comedy follows the cruise ship performer and her Disney-employed pals as their gigs are abruptly canceled in the wake of COVID. Her spoofy script covers all the expected lockdown lowlights, from Zoom-based bitch sessions and bedazzled homemade face masks to wresting with Florida’s unemployment shitshow as a contract worker. Waddell’s struggle to stay solvent even led her to take a thankless temp contract tracing coronavirus deniers, before things finally took a brighter turn.

The topics tackled by Waddell’s satirical skits are certainly topical, but the cartoonishly broad performances (aided and abetted by fright wigs and wacky oversized props) are too goofy for the barbs to have any actual bite. If a local theme park produced a pandemic-skewering streetmosphere act, it might look a lot like this, although it probably wouldn’t include anything as belabored as the tedious bitch-slapping routine that starts this show on the wrong foot.

There are some gentle laughs to be found in this lark, along with a few moments of genuine connection, but based on the impressive CVs of this cast stocked with Equity actors, I was hoping for something a bit smarter and sharper than this uneven grab-bag of gags. (And a final warning for weed fans: Despite the cannabis leaf prominently displayed on the poster, this show is practically pot-free.)

Tickets and show info: A Different Kind of MaryJayne


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