Fringe review: The Preposterous Predicament of Polly Peel (Act 1)

THE PREPOSTEROUS PREDICAMENT OF POLLY PEEL (ACT 1) by Kevin Wong and Julie Tepperman (Polly Peel Collective). At Tarragon Mainspace. July 7 at 5:15 pm, July 9 at 1 pm, July 10 at 10 pm, July 11 at 7 pm, July 13 at 3:30 pm, July 15 at 5:15 pm. See listing. Rating: NNN

This original musical is inspired by artist Paul Peels painting, The Young Biologist. And just like in a science lab, the show is an experiment, asking happens when you bring the first act of an in-development work to the Fringe.

Although the show (book by Julie Tepperman, music and lyrics by Kevin Wong) is still finding its footing, it contains much to appreciate. The story revolves around the Peel family. When one of its members suddenly dies, the rest are left reeling, especially youngest child Polly (Hannah Levinson), an 11-year-old who struggles to reconcile what happens to the soul after death.

Its a refreshingly deep topic for a musical to tackle, and Levinson brings depth and wit to the title role. Most other characters dont feel as developed yet, so despite uniformly strong casting, supporting roles seem superficial.

The score contains some tender and clever lyrics, but no truly stand-out songs. And the pacing, under Aaron Williss direction, tends to drag.

Other interesting sparks include Richard Lees brief turn as a grandmother, and set-and-costumer designer Kelly Wolfs whimsical beds in the opening scene.

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