nytheatre.com review by Chris Harcum
August 15, 2010
If you're looking for a lesson on the sweet science of making a Fringe show, check out Sossy Mechanics's Trick Boxing at the Connelly Theater. The one-two combination of writer-performers Megan McClellan and Brian Sostek has been getting in the ring at festivals and other venues for the better part of the past decade, and all that road work has trimmed this Horatio Alger-type story down to its fightin' weight. Their footwork, both in switching between characters and delightful dancing, is impressive and their dialogue and delivery lands enough jabs to rack up major points by the final bell.
Kudos should also be given to the FringeNYC gods for mating this show, a valentine to films of the 1930s, with this venue. The mixture of the pressed tin ceiling and well-appointed proscenium arch on this miniature opera stage meets neatly with the peppy, swing-music infused atmosphere. "I know why you come here, with high hopes and low morals," says Bill Buck, the show's narrator. Buck meets David Danielovich, an apple seller who gets in trouble when trying to run a short con on a tough guy. Impressed by Danielovich's agility, Buck brings him down to the Hot Horse Gym to begin training. There, a wizened Tommy "Aioli" Gigliano, wheezes his concerns from the bottom of his punctured lungs about Danielovich's potential.
But Buck gives the kid the moniker Dancin' David Danny and starts teaching him how to be as successful in the ring as Danielovich's grandfather was at making watches. Danielovich is also schooled a few rounds outside the ring by a lovely lady named Bella as he is matched against Sticky Jake Bones, Big Bill, and Johnny the Monkey. The odds keep changing for Dancin' David Danny as the stakes keep getting higher.
Crisp and clean, this show is a well-paced delight from beginning to end. McClellan and Sostek's physical work is amazing. Sostek is equally graceful switching between all the male characters as he is partnering during the dance numbers. McClellan is very grounded when acting and simply floats through the swing routines. And, no, that's not trick photography on their post card; she can kick high enough to knock the lights off the ceiling. The intricate paddycake rhyme-tap-dance-boxing-training routine that speeds up three times will knock you out.
Having made their New York City debut with this piece, here's hoping they'll return to defend their champion title.