New York City’s annual FRIGID Festival is underway this month, bringing more than 150 independent-theater performances to three downtown stages in just 12 days. Like all great Fringe Festivals, the lineup spans the zany and twisted, and the serious and thoughtful.
Top among the twisted is JonBenét Ramsey: Murder Mystery Theater, produced by Brooklyn’s own Medium Face Productions. It’s clear from the title that we’re likely in for some rough humor laced with plenty of groaners – a correct assumption. But this lightning-paced musical also offers some wild belly laughs at jokes you may be ashamed to even admit you find hysterical.
The trio portraying JonBenet’s mother, father, and brother (Mary Crosbie, Bob McSmith and Tobly McSmith, respectively) work together seamlessly, bouncing and gliding off each other as the bizarro Ramsey clan. Incest and necrophilia are just the tip of the comic iceberg on the way to relinquishing all decorum and giving into the sicko laughs that bring extra-special enjoyment to the fringe-theater experience.
Interspersed through the performance is April Kidwell as fictional investigative reporter Cougar Jones stationed outside the Ramsey home, though she soon finds her way in. She proves a worthy straight man for the loopy main characters, as if she were channeling Geraldo for the most melodramatic newscasts.
Ending the production with a song that says it all, “Everybody Gets Molested Sometimes,” you may find yourself ruminating about where the bounds of good and bad taste reside. Or you may just be happy to let yourself descend into the twisted – since we all know that’s the most fun place to be anyway.
“JonBenét Ramsey: Murder Mystery Theater” is performed by Brooklyn’s Medium Face Productions (wearemediumface.com). Remaining performance: Thursday, February 28, 7:05 p.m. at The Kraine Theater, 85 East 4th Street (between 2nd Avenue and Bowery). (frigidnewyork.info)