Orlando Fringe 2022 review: 'Wanzie With a Z, Part 2: The Rave Years'

A rocking hour of rolling reminiscences in which none of the names of local celebrities have been changed to protect the guilty.

Do you recall Orlando’s Ecstasy-fueled electronic dance scene of the late 1990s? If you can remember it, you probably weren’t really there. Worry not, because Fringe icon Michael Wanzie will recall every MDMA-enhanced moment for you in this drug-induced follow-up to his 2019 autobiographical play. And for those unfamiliar with the circuit party scene, editor Rich Charron’s video preshow of old ABC News reports provides an in-depth primer on the history of gay raves, preparing you for a rocking hour of rolling reminiscences in which none of the names of local celebrities have been changed to protect the guilty.

Unlike his earlier three-hander, this new installment is a solo affair, with Wanzie alone on stage — only designer Douglas White’s oversized totems of his adventures (like supersized sunglasses and a giant pacifier) to support him. With the aid of Kenny Howard’s unobtrusive direction, Wanzie holds the house’s attention with stories that explore his fetish for intoxicated straight boys’ feet (something that will sound familiar to audiences who saw his It All Started at the Radisson Inn last year) and expose his role terrorizing Disney-bound tourists after all-night Gay Days after-parties.

Wanzie’s climactic tale of visiting medical triage during a Disney theme park rave may be familiar to his friends (or fodder for his detractors), and I would have appreciated a little more connective tissue between stories giving context to the arc of his experimentations. But the coda in which Wanzie confesses how much MDMA has helped his mental and spiritual health movingly reveals a little-seen side of this well-known Fringe legend. Don’t say no to this walk on the wild side, but do drop in for a dose of hilarious humanity with Orlando’s favorite raconteur; I promise you’ll never look at a pacifier the same way again.

Tickets and show info: Wanzie With a Z, Part 2: The Rave Years


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