Fringe Review: King Of The Castle

KING OF THE CASTLE by Ross Hammond..

KING OF THE CASTLE by Ross Hammond. Factory Mainspace. July 10 at 7:30 pm. Buy tickets. Rating: NN

Writer/director Ross Hammond’s King Of The Castle features an intriguing premise, albeit one that seems lifted from a certain 2015 Pixar movie. Teenager Gordon (Tyler Hagemann) is starting to grow up, and so he’s leaving behind his imaginary friends. In fact, one of them, a clown, has just been found dead, and the bulk of the play is spent trying to figure out whodunnit.

Was it one of Gordon’s other “friends,” the sexually adventurous Lucy (Olivia Clarke), the emotionally needy Edgar (Nick May) or the bully Pepper (Jada Rifkin)?

It’s hard to care, especially since we know little about Gordon’s outside life, except for a recent crush on a girl and the fact that he’s been seeing a therapist. What, exactly, does the death of the clown signify? That he’s finding his fun elsewhere? Is Gordon actually losing his mind? And surely “imaginary friends” aren’t the same as aspects of one’s personality.

Hammond fails to set up this world in any believable or logical way. More sense of how Gordon relied on his “friends” to get by would ground it and raise the stakes. We need more scenes like the touching one in which we learn how Gordon first “met” Edgar.

As it is, the story – and the production, with its distracting sound effects – is a mess. The acting is uneven, but May and especially Rifkin are watchable as contrasting characters. I only wish they had more to do.

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