Orlando Fringe 2022 Review: 'Becoming Grandma Kat'

The rare Fringe show entirely in ASL.

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click to enlarge Orlando Fringe 2022 Review: 'Becoming Grandma Kat'
Orlando Fringe

If the whole point of the Fringe Festival is to give voices to the unheard, perhaps no show better represents that ethos than Becoming Grandma Kat, which tells the tale of a hearing-impaired TikTok celebrity whose 60 million followers forced him to flee cyber-stardom in favor of pseudonymity disguised as a septuagenarian diner operator.

Kevin Banks Jr. performs his one-person show entirely using ASL (at least when he isn’t fiddling with his oversized eyeglasses) backed by a prerecorded female vocal track, whose measured pace doesn’t properly reflect his emphatic onstage presence. Once the scenario is established, the newly christened Grandma Kat interacts with the inhabitants of her undisclosed hideout, haranguing them them unsolicited cooking lessons and relationship advice. His monologue’s high points consist of plaid poles at politicians and bitcoin Ponzi schemes, followed by a series of episodic incidents that fail to generate much in the way of drama or laughs.

Banks’s life story (as conveyed in an 11th-hour monologue) is inspirational, but his play’s plotline is pretty perfunctory. This Sister Act-meets-Madea dramedy doesn’t ultimately have much to say, and takes an awfully long time to say it. But I applaud Banks for speaking to Fringe audiences in a way you rarely see take center stage. Banks is working to launch his Florida Deaf Theater Project; I fervently hope he succeeds, and goes on to produce many successful shows that leave Grandma Kat far behind.

Tickets & Show Info: Becoming Grandma Kat

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