Once upon a time, in a magical realm somewhere between here and there, an elf, fairy, or imp conceived a spoof of a computer game. It was created to confound those unfamiliar with fantasy games, comic book stories, or films of magic and fantasy and to entertain those who had long ago given over to worlds conjured from dreams or hallucinations.
The Fantastical Fellowship: Final Quest for the Crisis Crystal XXVII, written by Andrew Agress in a free-flowing style, is mainly an attempt to spoof a computer game franchise of a science fiction fantasy story. “Final Fantasy,” first published in 1987, is now “Final Fantasy XVI” and has expanded beyond games into everything from manga graphic novels to anime television and film. This show is a mash-up of different theatrical styles, from improvisation to scripted dialogue to audience interaction, and so it is never quite the same from performance to performance. The cast works hard at delivering these various styles, but the show is never clear on whether it is a spoof, parody or a little of each.
The play opens with a narrator played by Theo McKenna, one of several characters he plays, providing an overview of where the story stands and where it is headed. It is a story of a planet that is being destroyed and a magical heroine who appears to save it. She fails in her initial effort, and her quest is taken over by a group of misfit friends who work on completing her quest.
The hardworking cast takes us along on the quest by playing multiple characters and using a wide array of props scattered on tables at the edge of the performance space. The transformations are not always smooth, which leads to some humorous moments. The jokes are corny, some of which are groan-worthy. The show lacks coherence and has an amateurish feel, never taking itself seriously as drama.
The cast, Stephanie Litchfield, Patrick Elizalde, Mary Rose Go, Theo McKenna, and Rebecca Ho, work hard to be playful and serious, a difficult task under the best circumstances. They are directed in this effort by Phoebe Brooks. Each performer plays multiple roles, some depictions better than others, but each cast member strongly supports all the interactions with their castmates. One of the significant challenges for the cast is the venue. The theater is a small black box-type showplace that makes staging, set, and costume changes difficult.
The production team made the most of the venue, with Brandon Bulls, sound design; Christopher Wong, lighting design; Liv Rigdon, character asset design; Kanika Asavari Vaish, co-prop, and set design with by playwright Agress.
The Fantastical Fellowship: Final Quest for the Crisis Crystal XXVII (through February 9, 2023)
Frigid New York
UNDER St. Marks, 94 St. Marks Place, in Manhattan
For tickets, visit https://www.frigid.nyc/event/6897:575/
Running time: 90 minutes without an intermission