This is definitely an unusual play – at times hard to follow, quirky, and certainly original, so yes, it’s a text-book example of Fringe at its best! It proves challenging to draw in an audience, but it may still be worth your while to see it.
Still and all, there are good things to say about it also, starting with the fact that the content is so off-the-wall strange -speleologists(cavers) meetup with spelunkey monkeys! And also with country-cranky yet cool Gertie Stoval (played and cracking wise by Raven Bonniwell), owner with her half-brother George Stoval (Tom Eisman, dour but dignified as a county commissioner who also”grows certrain illegal cash crops”) of a collapsing farmhouse sitting atop a wondrous cavern with a curative potential to make the American Dream come true! How’s that for a catchy premise?
But wait, as they say on TV infomercials, there’s more!
The two speleologists are Charlie Tuggle (played with gawky charm by Vanita Kalra) and Dr. Polly Eidelweiss (Abri O’Connor), a lesbian on the prowl for winsome Charlie, as she comes on to her saying “you’re cute in a grad student sort of way.” They meet in turn Samantha Dean (Molly Coyle), who wants to use the magic cave to stage Godspell while the two academics debate how to harvest grants for medical research from it, and god-fearing Gertie, denying evolution with every breath, meanwhile “thinks small,” having no idea what the stakes really are and simply wants to give tours there. Another scheme is to use the space to store radioactive waste products.
Possible uses of the cave are much discussed and most of the play is set underground in a darkened place filled with cave monkeys (why – of course!),spurring much talk of evolutionary theory (who really is descended from whom, Mr. Darwin?). Playwright Mark Rigney, now a stay-at-home-dad with two young sons, and a novelist and short-story writer in Evansville Indiana, seems to know his scientific stuff.
Messy property rights are also at issue in Cavers. Who has the right to exploit the wondrous properties of this magical cavern? Like Dashiell Hammett’s “The Maltese Falcon,” the cavern is something that dreams are made of, but whose dream shall prevail?
Basically, stay away from this one unless you don’t mind the longeurs of being bored by long stretches of pointless dialogue and digressive mystifications. But if you’re fascinated with caves, then this rates at best a definite maybe.
Produced by Nu Sass Productions
Reviewed by David Hoffman
Running time: 80 minutes
Read all the reviews and check out the full Capital Fringe schedule here.
Did you see the show? What did you think?