A correction: I accidentally swapped the names of the show’s composer and lyricist. Alexander Ferguson wrote the music, Alexander Sage Oyen wrote the lyrics and the two collaborated on the book.
Fringe review: ‘Lyssa,’ Alexander/Alexander Productions, Orlando
By Elizabeth Maupin
All Fringe artists have to start out somewhere, and if they’re lucky they start out with something like Lyssa, an ambitious project for a bunch of kids who are either fresh out of high school or still in it. This high-drama musical about a group of teenagers marooned on an island doesn’t have the polish that age and experience may bring. But as an hour-long musical it’s an impressive undertaking, and I suspect it’s just one of many to come.
The title refers to a Greek deity, the spirit of madness, rage and frenzy (and also of rabies, but we won’t go into that here). For reasons I couldn’t figure out, five kids are shipwrecked on an island, and the bust of Lyssa seems to haunt some of them. But most of the time they spend being haunted by, or rather coming on to, each other – one of the four boys and the sole girl, three of the boys to each other. Nobody seems to communicate with anybody else (or to work on food or shelter); they just try to push each other into sex, and when that doesn’t work they move on to more desperate measures.
Alexander Thomas Ferguson’s minor-key songs have some interesting rhythms, although they don’t show a lot of variety, and Alexander Sage Oyen’s sardonic lyrics and book (which Ferguson cowrote) leave a whole lot to the imagination. I was mystified by why the girl identifies with Lyssa or why the boys blame her for all their ills (although that’s consistent with the history of the world, I guess).
Still, there are far-reaching ideas here and intense commitment from the actors (Ferguson, Eliza Solomon, Travus Leroux, Sage Starkey and Tommy Prast, plus an unidentified narrator). Lyssa may be most compelling to the parents and friends of the kids who created it. But we all should be curious about what’s next.
Remaining performances: 12:40 p.m. Saturday 5/29, 2:40 p.m. Sunday 5/30. Green venue.