Fringe 2018 review: 'TK421 Is Dead' gives an entirely new perspective on the inner life of Stormtroopers

Fans of that famous galaxy far, far, away have several Fringe shows to pick from, including Charlie Ross’s officially licensed One Man Star Wars Trilogy. But TK 421 Is Dead: A Storm Trooper Story, this festival’s other Force-fueled production from Ross, seems to draw more inspiration from THX-1138 – George Lucas’ dark, dystopian first feature – than the Disney-owned sci-fantasy franchise.

TK411 (Rod Peter Jr.) is an anonymous drone dressed in a black jumpsuit, just a tiny cog in the Galactic Empire’s massive machine. The ingenious but apathetic engineer spends his monotonous days tinkering with MSE-6 “mouse” droids in the depths of a trash compactor, a cylopean dianoga his only company. 421’s halting efforts to connect with his poster-boy pal, TK421 (Ross), and faceless food-service worker TK564 (also Ross), coincide with a “pirate” incursion on their space station, leading 411 toward an unexpected destiny.

This Stoppard-influenced spin on A New Hope teases with nearly 20 minutes of elliptical scene-lets – obtuse dialogue punctuated by blackouts and repeating numbers – before the first firm film connections arrive. Jedi who ride out their initial confusion will eventually be rewarded with deep-cut references to Boonta Eve and Mos Eisley. Though there are some big laughs (especially for those who know the movie minutiae), the grim, grinding tone and stop-and-start pacing is closer to water torture than wacky comedy. As long as you’re prepared to be patient, this Rosencrantz & Guildenstern-esque answer to Episode IV will give you an entirely new perspective on the inner life of Stormtroopers, something I never knew I needed until now.

TK 421 Is Dead: A Storm Trooper Story
Chicken for Supper Productions / Charles Ross
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
All Ages
65 minutes
Gold Venue
Saturday, May 19th 9:00pm
Friday, May 25th 5:30pm
Location Details

Orlando Fringe Gold Venue

Orlando Museum of Art, 2416 N. Mills Ave. Mills 50

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