I left Killer Quack feeling a bit reluctant. Had it only been one hour? Do I really have to leave this wake of passion and energy left behind from James Judd’s hilariously flamboyant yet undeniably entrancing performance? Must I face the world knowing that I would never be the equal of Judd, romantically obsessing over a murdering, macho con man, or possess the ability to tell a story about his obsession with perfectly balanced ratios of humor, uncertainty, and drama?
Well, I guess I could write about it. Or something.
The show opens with Judd, a Fringe favorite storyteller, delivering a sincere message; this personal story has a tender spot in his heart, and it continues to this day through a pen pal relationship with the now-imprisoned Dean Faiello, the “Killer Quack.” Oh, and there will be no dancing, despite the fact that Fringe erroneously categorized this show as such.
Judd turns jovial and it quickly becomes apparent that Killer Quack is, at its heart, a comedy. Comedy plays to Judd’s strengths as an energetic over-indulger of hand gestures and makeshift prop operator. Even as the tale travels to the darker parts of his life, he keeps the audience engaged and searching for the next unexpected quip. He maintains such a level of liveliness that I questioned whether he possessed the secret to sustainable energy; we just need Judd to keep telling stories in some motion-absorbing equivalent of a hamster wheel.
Damn, even during the boring, more narrative parts of the story he keeps the audience completely focused by setting up the stage for the next scene. Judd encountered Faiello while looking for a plastic surgeon to remove a tattoo. To demonstrate, he neatly arranges four chairs side-by-side to lie across like an examination table. He takes his time arranging them into two-by-two rows as he guides us through another gap of time, and the transitions from one scene to the next flow unperturbed.
by James Judd
at Main Stage – Goethe Institut
812 7th Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
Details and tickets
Should Judd feel guilty over his unwavering attraction to this sociopath? Could something threatening result from his pursuit of the man now sitting in the Attica Correctional Facility? Is this show, in some way, a cathartic release for our spritely storyteller?
In the end, we find that Judd lied to us; there was dancing after all, as he took some well-deserved victory leaps towards the exit then back to the stage and then back towards the exit again while the Goethe Institut’s auditorium echoed with applause. Yeah. That’s it. Director Kel Haney and James have masterfully crafted a fun performance out of this somewhat dark story, and it’s definitely worth seeing.