There is a certain subset of people, particularly kids of the 80s, for whom such phrases as “As You Wish” and “Never argue with a Sicilian when death is on the line” are an inextricable part of their DNA.
Joe Brack is one of those people, and judging by his enthusiastic reception for the Sunday performance My Princess Bride, there are plenty more out there attending the Capital Fringe Festival.
My Princess Bride is part love letter to Brack’s favorite film, part autobiographical story and part snappy and affectionate sending up of the fairy tale classic. Brack whizzes through the film’s most quotable moments, easily slipping into impressions of actors such as Cary Elwes and Wallace Shawn. He embraces the limits of his one-man cast and tiny set, with goofy stuffed animals standing in for the film’s Rodents of Unusual Size and jaunty sound effects punching up his storytelling.
Along the way, the audience learns the therapeutic effect that the film, as well as its companion novel, had Brack him growing up around Boston. The Princess Bride guided Brack through not only his childhood, but through his life’s major milestones, from the departure of his fiancé to the passing of his beloved grandmother.
Bracks’ love of “The Princess Bride” doesn’t keep him from poking fun at the film, whether he’s smirking at the ambiguous race of swashbuckler Indigo Montoya (was he Spanish? Italian? Jewish?) or mocking the young Fred Savage’s character in the film (“That sick little turd; being all flippant to his grandfather, Columbo”, Brack says.).
My Princess Bride is a breezy ride through the highlights of the movie that inspired it, but is most affecting when it connects Brack’s own story with the narrative (young Joey had quite the different picture of what, exactly, those “Cliffs of Insanity” were referring to).
While Brack captures the sweetness and adventure of “The Princess Bride” he also makes one of the film’s (and in particular, the novel’s) less romantic lessons resonate: namely, that life isn’t fair.
My Princess Bride runs through July 29 at Gear Box1021 7th St NW, 3rd Floor, Washington, DC.
Details and tickets
Missy rates this 4 out of 5.
Joe Brack, who has written and illustrated for DC Theatre Scene, gave us a first look at My Princess Bride