FRINGE REVIEW: Mac Attack bombs

Mac Attack Fringe Edmonton GigCityImagine going to McDonald’s, ordering a Big Mac and being given a Filet o’ Fish. Any reasonable response would be to say “Yuck, I didn’t order this” and hand it back.

No such luxury is afforded audience members at Fringe plays that turn out to be something completely different than advertised. You just have to sit there and choke it down.

The Fringe guide write-up for Michael Beamish’s comedy “Mac Attack” (Venue 10) starring Jeff Hoffman and Nick Heffelfinger, describes a wacky scenario involving a kooky haul truck operator named Teevo, the end of the world and a born again Christian set in a bomb shelter in Fort McMurray – in other words, superior comic potential. Sadly, however, most of it is thwarted by a poorly-formed story.

In what could be more accurately titled “Brokeback Biblethumpin’ in Some Un-named Prairie Town,” this play lacks both sophistication and depth. And it ended after about thirty minutes, half of its advertised running time. Still, the acting was fairly good, with both actors squeezing the most they possibly could out of the weak material. Hoffman is creepy as the intense whackjob Teevo, while Heffelfinger does an admirable job as Teevo’s naive friend Daryl, who even dressed like a Daryl.

The play is so weak on exposition that you might wonder what the point of it all is. No explanation of why Teevo lives in a bomb shelter is given, other than he’s got too much money and too much down time between shifts. Has the world already ended? Do these guys live in some kind of a post apocalyptic dystopia? It is never revealed. The crux of the feeble story hinges on Teevo’s plan to force Daryl to do something that isn’t clearly specified, while Daryl is intent on leaving the fallout shelter – not because his buddy is crazy, but to marry his church-going girlfriend Stephanie, who does not appear to have mutated into some living gamma ray mutated cesspool of carcinogenic cells.

Over the course of the half hour play, we discover that Teevo’s motivations aren’t terribly altruistic. Given the emotionally heavy, brooding and humorless tone of the character – who nonetheless earns most of what little laughs there are – we learn the play will not be exploring the thematic goldmine of same sex attraction in a town where men are men and women are significantly outnumbered. No, that seems much too complex for Mac Attack. If fact, just when the play starts going somewhere interesting, it ends – much like life after a nuclear holocaust, bomb shelter or no bomb shelter.