CRADDOCK AND KENNEDY SERVE UP THE END OF THE WORLD AT THE VILLAGE OF THE FRINGE
This summer the Village of the Fringe gets “vintage” in the new comedy by Chris Craddock and Michelle Kennedy. Set in 1962 at the height of the Cuban missile crisis, Apocalypse: A Period Piece tells the story of two young boys accidentally trapped in a bomb shelter during what may well be the end of the world. Seeking comfort, they dive into the world of fantasy, magic realism, comic books and an irreverent take on midcentury American History. Apocalypse: A Period Piece is the story of brotherhood, love and the shifting of family and what it means to be a part of history.
Directed by Kennedy and starring Craddock and veteran Calgary improviser and musician Rob Mitchelson, Apocalypse: A Period Piece is the evolution of two long term collaborations. Craddock and Kennedy have worked together on a number of one-off projects including the Sterling nominated remount of Craddock’s PornStar.USA. Mitchelson and Kennedy have collaborated on two previous Fringe projects (The Flood in 2009 and The Tornado in 2010). Craddock and Mitchelson have shared an Improvaganza stage over the years, but this is their first direct collaboration.
The 2012 Fringe Festival also marks a particular point of excitement for Edmonton Theatre and Fringe fans- Apocalypse: A Period Piece is the world premier of a new Chris Craddock play. “It been two years since I had a piece of entirely new writing for the stage. I’ve been wrapped up in TV stuff and remounts.” says Craddock, “I’m just really excited for people to see it!” Kennedy echoes that sentiment, “I’ve always been such a huge fan of Chris’ and working with his been an immense treat and exceptional learning experience.”
Apocalypse: A Period Piece runs August 16-26 with a special preview/party August 15. All shows play at Phabrik Arts and Design.
Press photos from Apocalypse: A Period Piece
All photos taken by Robert Mitchelson and belong to him. I have permission to post them, you don't, so please don't steal.
This is Rob performing JFK:BFF at the Late Night Cabaret. Funny! Joel Crichton is on piano and Scott Schepely is on drums. Julian Faid and Kevin Gillese hosted.
Here is a review from the Edmonton Journal:
Apocalypse: A Period Piece
Stage 30, Phabrik Art & Design Centre
No one is better than Chris Craddock at writing for precocious kids who imagine whole realities of theatrical possibilities, adapted from the pop culture of the moment and starring … themselves.
With this new play, a collaboration with Michelle Kennedy, we meet the last two boys on earth, or so they assume. They’re two brothers, trapped in the family bomb shelter during the fraught ’60s of the Cuban Missile Crisis, when every siren, every tremor, is a harbinger of total world annihilation. The stakes are high — as high as life and death — when the boys assess their fatal possibilities and play out scenarios of destruction (they even “do” the radiation) and heroic dramas of possible salvation — cobbled together from the news (“the Russians are crazy and evil”), from comic versions of the idols of the day (JFK and Elvis) and, very touchingly, from the puzzle of their own father.
That’s the thing that gives Apocalypse its lustre, the way it conjures an age when both families and war were nuclear. Craddock himself plays the older brother, with his valiant, touching ’60s notions of how to be daddy and enhance group morale, under dire circumstances. And Rob Mitchelson, in a lovely performance, is the younger brother, whose crush on Elvis’s blue eyes has a certain prophetic resonance. One of the great strengths of the show is the elliptical way the story of a fractured ’60s marriage, and its fallout, emerge against a political backdrop with its own heroes and villains.
Under the circumstances, playful enough, the musical production number seems particularly gratuitous. And the ending seems a little too determined to be a resolution. The evolution of a sense of doom, though, and the addition of grey to the black-and-white palette, is a coming-of-age evolution with real force.
© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal
the Edmonton Sun loved us a little less:
Phabrik Art & Design
The lights come up and we find two boys. It is America in the '50s and they are playing in the family's atomic bomb shelter. Their game is made up of things they hear their parents say, — the American hatred of the communists, propaganda, bad sci-fi movies and pop culture. "The Russians are going to
blow up the world," they say. "They will blow up the churches first because they believe church is the "opium of the asses." "Radiation is really weird," one observes. "Yeah but it gave us Spiderman," says the other.
The play is Apocalypse: A Period Piece and it's Fringe favourite Chris Craddock's (PornStar/Moving On) first new play (co-written with Michelle Kennedy) in two years. Craddock stars as the older brother with Rob Mitchelson as the younger, JFK-loving one.
There is a loud crash and the boys find themselves unable to open the door of the bomb shelter. They think the atomic bomb has been dropped. They panic, thinking that their mom has been vaporized but their father, who lost an arm in the war, may be safe because he was at the army base. "We may be the last two boys left in the whole world," they whisper in awed terms. Their fevered imagination serves as the basis for this fast-paced, surreal entertainment with the laughs coming at you with the speed of a
blast from the mouth of an Uzi.
The brothers create a universe beyond the door where dad's arm gets replaced with a super bionic appendage that fires bullets and blasts explosives. He meets with President Kennedy on Airforce One and they plot to rescue the boys. But the world is now populated by huge mutant beasts, one of which was recently their house cat. When the president and the dad need help, they enlist Secret Agent Elvis Presley. Later Elvis is to die in a great fight and his last words are, "Don't let them replace me with a fat
Elvis robot." But before he expires he sings the tender ditty, "JFK you are my BFF."
It's all pretty silly but very funny and Craddock adds a serious layer that shows the family falling apart and dad, after his experiences in the war, has become an alcoholic.
Craddock's ability to switch characters is legend (Go see the Fringe's Gordon's Big Bald Head or Harold of Galactus) but he is nothing short of amazing here. As is Mitchelson. The two manage quite credible characatures of JFK, Elvis and Graucho Marx (who, of course, invented the Communist party) and switch from one to the other with lightening speed.
The whole is an intricately choreographed dance. At one point, a punch starts out with one player, who follows it through and then gets it on the jaw.
I suspect there are those who find all this too much, too over the top, too balmy, brainless and childish. But you won't find this sort of thing anywhere but at the Fringe and if it sounds funny and entertaining, I suspect you won't find this kind of nonsense done better anywhere.
Review: 3.5 out of 5 suns
a last review from vue weekly
Apocalypse: A Period Piece is the incredibly entertaining story of two bickering young brothers who believe that World War III has broken out, causing their imaginations to run rampant. Craddock and Mitchelson are extremely high energy as they conjure up images of President JFK and Elvis Presley coming to rescue them with their father, alternating between those characters and their spot-on performances as brothers. A musical number mostly sung by a dying Elvis played by Mitchelson is a highlight of the show and is absolutely hilarious. One thing’s for sure: if the world ever does break out into World War III, you’ll want Craddock and Mitchelson on your side.
And we were lucky enough to be awarded the VOLUNTEER'S CHOICE AWARD at the 2012 Fringe!