Walking into the sanitized gray of the Hyman M. Perlo Dance Studio, I witness a pair of cream, hi-top Chuck Taylor’s sitting on a podium with a white checkered cloth underneath. Over the PA system, there is music playing – it is serene, perhaps too much so. It comes in quick bursts, and sounds suspiciously like the intentionally inoffensive bumper music played between cable television programs.
In walks our leader-in-faith, Saint Jimmy, wearing a white apron with bright red sneakers. Noises swell, cacophonous, until Jimmy introduces with an angelic “yum” the gospel of Rachel Ray.
So begins St. Jimmy Celebrates “The Food at our Feet.” The show is a solo performance presented by Jimmy Grzelak, but it might perhaps more accurately be referred to as a testament or a service. In it, Saint Jimmy calls witness to the holy virtue baked inside the most unlikely of places – the Food Network™. In a frenetic mixture of song, sermon and spectacle, Saint Jimmy attempts to synthesize these widely disparate thoughts that he might ask how we might discover holiness in that which we idly consume.
St. Jimmy Celebrates “The Food at Our Feet”
by Jimmy Grzelak
Director: Cate McCrea
Details and tickets
Saint Jimmy often preaches directly from the gospel according to the Food Network™, speaking with too-calming reverb over remixed sound bytes from some of the more famous Food Network™ stars. His hymnal is a mixtape of pop-culture liturgy, and his accompaniment those very same sound-bytes stripped down and tone shifted into acutely strange orchestrations. For what it’s worth, Saint Jimmy sings well if not a bit eerily. His tenor is operatic and full of vibrato, reminiscent of Tiny Tim had he quit show business to pursue a calling in the brotherhood.
At other times, Saint Jimmy’s preaching comes at you like a river, speaking with cool, rushing vigor that sometimes washes his point away before you’ve had time to wrestle with it. Then again, without spoiling too much, one passage where Saint Jimmy invokes the solidarity of Heinz ketchup likely ranks as the most Fringeworthy thing I’ve seen all festival. Like a Catholic service spoken in church Latin, while one may not always understand Saint Jimmy the feeling and ritual still more or less comes across.
If all this sounds bizarre, it is. Saint Jimmy’s presence, though, is oddly captivating, and the serio-comic way in which he treats his oration is bound to elicit a few laughs. For all the oddity, occasional glances to the audience or stifled smiles allow us to see that Jimmy Grzelak is keenly aware of how bizarre Saint Jimmy truly seems. That, and the show’s quotational nature (lampshaded by regular invocations from Title 17 copyright law) create a kind of Rauschenbergian combine of a performance that makes more sense the less you think about it.
That being said, when you do go, stay with him – though it may not seem that Saint Jimmy knows entirely where he’s going, he’s just taking the circuitous route (which he will tell you about later in the sermon.) While this may leave one bewildered, the more trust you put in Saint Jimmy’s reverence the more fun you will have. Though they may not leave born again, fans of food, faith and Fringe together are likely to have a good time.