Dead Lines was my final Fringe show of the 2018 season. The premise is that Logan (Brent Custer) and Diane (Briana Van Deusen) are writers for the deritive titled FNL sketch comedy show, and their favorite place to write is a bar, owned by Frank (Manu Ajmani). As they write, the character sketches they create come to life, with characters played by Manu Ajmani, and Actors 1 and 2, Jordan Grant and Mia Beckerman, respectively. Throughout the show, a romance is played out between Logan and Diane, and a conflict, mixing the reality and metaphors of the actors and reality of the situation. At one point, Actor 2 (Mia Beckerman) changes and becomes one of the actors from the sketch comedy show and sits at a bar with Diane to discuss Logan being let go from the show.
The play has potential, and the actors all did a fine job with what they were given. Jordan Grant and Mia Beckerman showed versatility with their character adjustments in multiple sketches. Brent Custer and Briana Van Deusen worked the audience through the ups and downs of their relationship. Manu Ajmani was boisterous and high energy as required. However, the writing was a bit slow at the beginning, causing the timing of the comedy to be off at the beginning, causing the characterizations to be flat. The last minutes of the play were the best, and were what seemed to capture the spirit and intention of the work. The actors brought high energy and enthusiasm to the work, but comedic timing and direction needed to be adjusted, and writing needed to be tightened to deliver better balance in the top part of the play to get the play off to a running start.
Another issue is the venue is not the best for traditional plays. Yes, it’s Fringe, and yes, you have to make it work. But it was distracting that someone was counting fringe buttons in the middle of the play as the box office is next to the stage. I think the play has a great idea behind it, but it needs some more script work for it to see its full potential.