Fringe review: ‘archy and mehitabel’

archy & mehitabel, Ausable Theatre, London, Ontario. Yellow venue, 50 minutes, $10. (Discounts: Fringe artists and volunteers.)

By Elizabeth Maupin
Elizabeth Maupin on Theater

Jeff Culbert in 'archy and mehitabel'

The tall, imposing Jeff Culbert turns himself into Archy, Don Marquis’s famous cartoon cockroach, simply by bending his knees and scurrying almost out of the light. As Mehitabel, Archy’s cool-as-a-cucumber feline friend, Culbert arches his back, places one casual hand on his hip and high-steps languidly across the stage.

archy & mehitabel, his adaptation of Marquis’s beloved cartoon series from the first third of the 20th century, is worth watching if only to see a man in vest, tie and stocking feet transform himself so elegantly — not just into cockroach and alley-cat but also worm, robin, ant and moth. The least imposing creatures come to life — and if you have ever felt bad about the course of nature, watching Culbert’s worm surrender to his robin will cheer you up considerably.

Archy may style himself a philosopher (and a former blank-verse poet), but there are no major insights here — just humanity and jazz projected onto the smallest of the world’s inhabitants, with just enough truth in it to make you chuckle. Gentleness is not a quality you’ll find much of at the Fringe, but that’s what archy & mehitabel is all about — gentleness and grace.

Remaining shows:
Saturday May 21, 6 p.m.
Sunday May 22, 11:50 p.m.
Monday May 23, 9:20 p.m.
Wednesday May 25, 7:40 p.m.
Saturday May 28, 5 p.m.
Sunday May 29, 3:20 p.m.

One response to “Fringe review: ‘archy and mehitabel’

  1. Susan Thompson-Gaines

    SO glad to see this show is in Orlando! We have seen it at other Fringes and it is fabulous. GO SEE IT!

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