Fringe 2013: The Rambler review

Country music and the culture that goes with it is something that doesn’t jive with everyone, but despite being staged in a sweltering bar with shitty sight-lines, The Rambler is a show worth seeing that explores where homosexuality fits into the motto “true country.”

Old Man Rivet and his two sons, Nate and Kenny, are struggling to keep their touring career afloat, playing mostly weddings and country-club gigs, when Nate’s off-and-on girlfriend delivers word of her pregnancy during a late night argument. Throw in the brothers’ accidental discovery of their father’s sexual orientation that same night, and you’ve got a pressure cooker filled with the emotions people only experience during life’s crossroads.

The honest interactions from The Rambler’s four dynamic performers perpetuates momentum through both the rough times and the happy ones in the characters’ lives, and whether you enjoy country music or not, the acoustic tunes in the play feel critical to the story’s progression, and they’re performed well enough for fans to appreciate and non-country lovers to at least tolerate.

The Red Square Vodka House looks like a great spot to grab a few drinks, but it’s really no place for a theatrical production. I’m glad the energy the performers put into their delivery felt natural, as if I was just listening to someone else in a bar, because their were entire exchanges of dialogue that I was only able to hear, unable to crane my neck around the 15 heads that obscured my vision. If The Rambler were performed in a more traditional venue, it wouldn’t be as intimate, but the tradeoff would be worth it for this cast of people who could easily command the attention of a proscenium audience.

If you’re willing to line up early to get a good spot, or you’ve been blessed with a tall stature in life, this is drama that you’ll want to take in. A well put-together story that tries to figure out what it means to be a family and what it means to be a good person in 2013, is definitely worth a little discomfort.

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