Fringe Review: ‘Apocalypse Picnic’

Apocalypse Picnic.

I think I’ve found my favorite show for the fringe. Apocalypse Picnic, produced by a group that calls themselves Orbit Chef and directed by ensemble member Stephanie Svec, delivers a wry, clever, and silly but witty parody of the cultural times by plunging us into a post-apocalyptic setting. Apocalypse Picnic is a collection of solidly entertaining sketches with a variety of characters played by the various actors that is impressive and worth seeing while you still have a chance!

The show starts with a funny take on airplane safety speeches, as we are given suggestions for what to do in the event of the Internet becoming spontaneously self-aware, or how to use our seats as bludgeoning weapons should we be attacked by zombies. “Remember: Aim for the head!” an actress tells us cheerfully, while another gives us the ASL version. The cheery mood persists throughout each sketch, which I think is one of the things that made them so fun. We are introduced to a dictator, a published university author, and a billionaire, all brought low as they stand around a trash can fire trying to convince passersby to acknowledge and pay tribute to their past achievements, which have no meaning in this desolate world. A pair of pampered Paris Hilton-types demand luxurious and wasteful services, oblivious not only to the starving page who would happily eat their contaminated food and the burns on their host as he stumbles in from having fetched mud for their faces, but also to the need to keep the blinds closed so as to block out the chemically-stained sky. “Ew! Are you dead?” one of them asks her collapsed host. Finally, we see a game show that combines The Hunger Games with Bachelorette as well as a court-mandated therapy group session for well known superheroes who failed the planet by not preventing the disaster …and I better stop here before I give away all the surprises!

… impressive and worth seeing while you still have a chance!

I loved how the actors and actresses switched characters and mannerisms so quickly and fluidly, and they have no shame whatsoever, no matter how ridiculous or hideous the costume and personality! I wish I could keep track of who individually played what so that I could give appropriate accolades, but perhaps it’s just as well, since they all were commendable and work great as a team. It’s not often I come across something that successfully combines smart social commentary with wit and humor that is both clever and silly, and not too much one or the other. I definitely recommend Apocalypse Picnic, and I have a feeling it will find its way to your favorites list, as well!

Advisory: This show has some profanity and sexual humor, and is not recommended for children.

Running Time: 50 minutes.

Apocalypse Picnic is showing at the Goethe Institute Gallery on Thursday, July 25th and Saturday, July 28th. Tickets can be purchased online.

About Erica Shadowsong

Erica Shadowsong has spent a lot of her time looking for ways to combine her loves of the performing arts, literature, and world cultures in both her professional and personal life. She received a B.A. in English from George Mason University in 2002, and went on to study folklore in graduate school, where she discovered professional storytelling. When not working at her day job, she finds opportunities to perform as a storyteller and vocalist. She also sings with a local choir called the Six Degree Singers, and sometimes finds time to read for pleasure and write.