In our dizzying world of multitasking and multimedia, it takes a special kind of performer to command a captive audience through a one-man show. The story must be interesting, the pacing must be perfect, and the actor must be a sheer force of storytelling nature.
It is by no means an easy feat, yet Dylan Fresco manages to deliver just that. In his solo show Domino’s Pizza Saved My Life, the Minneapolis-based actor, writer and musician takes his audience on a whirlwind adventure, touching down everywhere from Russia to Turkey to New York.
Fresco introduces himself, and his story, with a folksy Russian tune and his tongue-in-cheek English translation. He strums his guitar as he strolls along Goethe’s Main Stage, setting the scene at a summer camp in upstate New York where he first fell in love with Russia—at the hands of a Russian girl, of course. Fresco’s journey weaves through his childhood in New York, his immigrant family history, and a number of global events that all helped shape him as a person and as a performer.
The production is a dazzling display of storytelling and Fresco’s ease with the material enables him to shift seamlessly between past and present. His family’s history, particularly the story of his paternal grandfather, is a reoccurring theme in his journey. As he recalls his own urban upbringing, he reflects on the experiences of a man he never met, a man who left most of his family in Europe to make a better life in a country thousands of miles away.
While the show has many heartfelt moments, Fresco’s light-hearted sense of humor prevents it from becoming heart-wrenching. His mimicry skills (most likely picked up during his time at Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre) give him a whole cast of characters to engage—from Russian adolescents to American rock stars.
Fresco’s knack for storytelling is most evident in his ability to draw contemplative life lessons from both the ordinary and extraordinary events of everyday existence. When he reveals the meaning behind the play’s name, one is struck not by just the anecdote itself, but the transformative effect it’s had on Fresco’s life.
The show is an affirmative and uplifting production that captures the true DIY spirit of Fringe—one man, one guitar, and one helluva story.
Domino’s Pizza Saved My Life had 5 performances, and closed July 22nd, 2012.
Christian rates this 4 out of a possible 5.