The Capital Fringe, unjuried and uninhibited, is open to every conceivable expression of the theatrical art. I have seen searing psychological drama and raucous solo comedies. I have seen naked people chase each other around the stage throwing beer and dead people playing guitars. There are some things I have yet to see – an opera about the public option, for example, or a solo boxing match – but at the Fringe, all is potential.
Last night I saw something I had never seen before: a new-age lecture on self-love, masquerading as a play set in the afterlife (which is also the beforelife) and in the womb of the protagonist’s mother. I will never see it again either, voluntarily.
It turns out that the evolution of a soul primarily means stepping up in celestial real estate. Soul 685 (Raleigh R. Pinskey) is apparently stuck on an “uneventful, mediocre cloud” which is nonetheless entirely to her satisfaction. However, the Angel of All Cloud Possibilities (Pinskey, speaking in a gruff voice), for unknown reasons, wishes her to move to a “bigger-better-everything” cloud, which requires that she endure another incarnation. 685, for unknown reasons which may involve chocolate, accepts.
Having lived countless lives, many on other planets, 685 selects rebirth on Earth from a catalogue, and thereafter picks the various components of her prospective life here on some sort of cosmic game show which is stripped of everything but the prize portion. Then the fetal Pinskey (wearing a costume with a huge umbilical cord) speaks from the womb, describing the everyday life around and outside her, with particular attention to her mother’s eating habits. She is born and spends a few moments describing her life on the planet. Apparently – Pinskey is a little vague here – she becomes a courtesan who entertains meaningless affairs with rich men. This, for some reason, dissatisfies her, and she begins to feel bad about herself. But Pendragon (Pinskey with a slight brogue), a dragon she used to ride in another life on another planet, rides in to rescue her. He tells her – well, let’s just say that he makes a suggestion that St. Augustine or the Dali Lama would be unlikely to make under similar circumstances.
Soul 685 learns to forgive and love herself, and leads the audience in a chorus of “A-You’re Adorable” (Buddy Kaye, Fred Wise and Sid Lippman). Voila! – she is back in the afterlife, on her bigger-better-everything cloud, which sounds suspiciously like one of those houses which go for 750 large on the front page of the Post’s real estate section.
Many spiritual people talk about the evolution of the soul, and many believers in reincarnation describe a process by which a personality becomes wiser and more effectively compassionate over the course of many lifetimes. This is the first time I have ever heard the soul’s mission described as self-love in the face of bad acts, though, or aimed at a more exalted place in the afterlife.
Pinskey supplements her performance with a power point presentation, apparently set on automatic. She scurries to keep up with it, generally succeeding but occasionally being forced to mutter or throw away lines. She is otherwise notso hotso as a performer, tossing off the unfortunate monologue in a monotone of rapture.
Her enthusiasm for her play saves the show from embarrassment, though. After the production she remains beaming on the stage, shaking everyone’s hand (well, maybe not mine after this review) or, on request, giving them a hug.
On Pinskey’s program (which includes, on its back, a mirror to assist us in self-love), she describes herself as a social media expert, author, voice over talent and actor, specializing in “PR/Branding” and in delivering a keynote address called “How’z Your Attitude of Gladitude?” I regret to report that after seeing The Evolution of Soul 685, my Attitude of Gladitude was Glumitude.
SPLAT! The Evolution of Soul 685
Written, directed, produced and performed by Raleigh R. Pinskey
Reviewed by Tim Treanor
Running time: 60 minutes
Read all the reviews and check out the full Capital Fringe schedule here.
Did you see the show? What did you think?