The theatrical punk rockers extraordinaire known as Dizzy Miss Lizzie’s Roadside Revue now set their sights on not just one talented Bronte but the whole brooding brood. In lesser hands, including a younger sister Anne and a drug-prone brother, Branwell, with the famously dynamic duo Charlotte and Emily could have been a raucous mess, but the Dizzy group makes it work, thanks to their high powered theatrical chops.
With their dazzling array of scenes and dynamic arsenal of humor, they pump up the energy level while spoofing the treasured Brontes with love and affection. The talented performers maintain an interactive, in your face style while blasting through their vocals, wailing their guitars and even playing the accordion.
From the very beginning, after they solemnly prepare for the first scene, they bust out in a tizzy when mistakenly introduced as a Shakespearean troop performing Henry V! This is obviously not your typical “required reading” experience, especially when the performers, as the treasured authors, seek ways to truncate the descriptions of their works, resorting to “Heathcliff Notes.”
The jokes keep tumbling out with spastic zeal, punctuated by the drummer’s clashing cymbals, performers wearing clown noses; they even use a smart aleck puppet for a plain old fashioned frolicking good time. At the same time, the piece has a solid underpinning of researched characters who we can care about, steeping tragedy in a broth of silliness.
The musical numbers aren’t half bad, either, sometimes reminiscent of the haunting melodies from Spring Awakening. The opening number, for example, invites the audience to “Come With Us” and also surfaces as the ending refrain. At the end, the songs blend the hard rock sound seamlessly into sketches depicting a definitive aspect of each sibling Bronte’s approach to life, alluding to their enormous talent while each is escorted away one by one, way too young.
Their own description says it all – “Dizzy Miss Lizzie’s Roadside Revue is theatre and vaudeville. It’s rock and roll, bluegrass and Americana. It’s the spirit of Woody Guthrie and the dustbowl wrapped up in a gypsy punk. The spirit of the vagabond and the rebel. They are the voice of human kind’s savage soul. It’s pure storytelling with bare hands and authentic voices..”
And yes, it’s all of that and more, especially seeing that they are home grown, created by Debra Buonaccorsi and Steve McWilliams, also in the cast, and joined by Laura Keena, Jordan Klein, Rich Nagel, Matthew Schleigh, and Gillian Shelly.
I now see why their shows sell out – they are savagely good, funny, and real.
The Brontes by Dizzy Miss Lizzie’s Roadside Revue has 6 performances between July 12 and 29 at Fringe Baldacchino Gypsy Tent area, 607 New York Ave NW DC.
Produced by Dizzy Miss Lizzie’s Roadside Revue
By Debra Buonaccorsi and Steve McWilliams
Reviewed by Debbie Minter Jackson
Running Time – 90 Minutes