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Volume 24, Number 9 — September 2017

REVIEW: "The Fantasticks' at Barter Theatre


"The Fantasticks" run through Aug. 8 at the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Va.

Be Ready to Laugh and Laugh

By ROBERT L. McKINNEY | SPECIAL TO THE HERALD COURIER | July 20, 2009

*** Published: July 15, 2009 in the Bristol (Va.) Herald Courier.***

As far as I know, "The Fantasticks" has no relationship whatsoever with Richard Brautigan's whimsical novelettes such as "Sombrero Fallout" or the Tom Robbins classic "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues."

But if you've ever chuckled yourself into a literary and philosoph-ical stupor with either of these, you will doubtlessly do the same with Barter Theatre's current production of said weirdness.

Presented on a sparse set in Barter Stage II's intimacy, "The Fantasticks" shows off the incredible talents of the Barter ensemble, especially Ashley Campos as "The Mute" and Ezra Colón as "Mortimer, the Man Who Dies." Not that everyone else isn't great – they are.

On the surface, the story is about two neighboring fathers who concoct a reverse psychology plot in which they pretend to be enemies so their two children will fall in love, a la Romeo and Juliet. Their scheme works until the kids figure out that it was just a plot between their fathers who are really the best of friends.

Madness ensues, tempers rise, stranger and stranger things and people keep popping up out of a seemingly bottomless prop box, and in the end, everybody lives happily ever afterward except a few thoroughly chopped up kumquat plants.

Despite all this craziness, however, I think "The Fantasticks" would be good fun for the entire family because there seems to be something for everybody to enjoy from us aging hippies who sort of remember our 1960s college days to youngsters and really oldsters who'll get a kick out of the seemingly endless sight gags.

There's even music, and though the only song you'll recognize will probably be "Try to Remember," some of the other numbers are also quite enjoyable, especially when done by the beautiful voice of Gwen Edwards.

Sean Campos, Michael Poisson, Rick McVey, Ben Mackel and Eugene Wolf round out the cast with Tim Robertson tickling the 88. My only real suggestion is to go with an open mind – and you can interpret that any way you choose.

-The show runs through Aug. 8 in Abingdon. For dates, times and reservations, call (276) 628-3991 or visit http://www.bartertheatre.com.

A! ExtraTopics: Review, Theatre