Brat RockPile Stacks the Talent

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

Brat Productions’ rock’n’roll Fringe double-header features science fiction, transformation, and soul love.

This week, the ramshackle chic Underground Arts space plays host to one of the strongest Fringe experiences around, with a not-to-be-missed line-up of theater and cabaret. First, the one-woman Popsicle’s Departure, 1989 takes you back in time to a cold-ass day in the life that takes place in Boston’s underbelly, where fast living takes its toll on volatile couple Dito and Jeremy, both played by Madi Distefano. Distefano, who also wrote the play, has an arch take on the punk rock lifestyle of her star-crust pair, but beneath the thick layers of fuck-it ennui, endless drug use, casual hookups, betrayal, and sardonic wisecracks lies an affecting story about young people who are trying to work out the details of their unconventional lives. The laughs come often, but the characters are nonetheless fully realized, three-dimensional people, and in spite of their (here comes an understatement) bad behavior, these hot messes are real, and when their hearts break, you might be surprised to find yours does as well.

Second on the bill is Jess Conda’s Eternal Glamnation, a slice, nay, a whole pie of rock music heaven, featuring a cast with some serious pipes, some cray-cray costumes, enough glitter to fuel the next dozen casts of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and a rollicking band to back it all up. From Queen to Bowie to Elton and back, plus the glitziest Ballroom Blitz you’ll ever see, Eternal Glamnation tells the story of a family that’s changing with the times, and the space alien who comes along for the ride. And although the show is bombast-heavy and sparkly as all get out, there’s a heart beating beneath the artifice here, too. Each character has a voyage, and by the time we arrive at the end of the ride, nobody is quite who they were when they started out. Telling that kind of story only through the familiar refrains of popular rock music is a tall order, but fortunately the cast has the heels to rise to the occasion.

If you have to see one Fringe show, you might as well see two, right? Not to mention, the Festival Bar takes place right at Underground Arts after the double-bill, with more entertainment in store, which makes for one epic night. They weren’t kidding when they called it RockPile, kids. 

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