Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Fringe Review: Midnight Baby

Who: Island Boy Public Journal
What: Midnight Baby
Length: 60 Minutes
WhereHamilton Fringe Festival Theatre On Demand Series
When: July 16-25, 2021
Tickets: From $5 -$20 via the Hamilton Fringe Festival Box Office

Justin Shaw is a natural theatre artist who makes a smooth transition to comedic storyteller in Midnight Baby; a sweet and heartfelt look at his search for self-acceptance.

Beginning in junior high and ending with one of his first jobs, Shaw takes the audience through three pivotal relationships in his life, each tied together with the overall theme of his inner journey. Each story is grounded with vivid, believable details, and is well-staged. Shaw’s timing and rhythms are flawless. His strongest moments seem to be within callbacks, as he strengthens the connections within each story, including his revelation that “nothing good happens in the bathroom” and his reliance on one particular dance move. While there are not a lot of moments that are laugh-out-loud funny, Shaw’s presentation as a long-form storyteller with some comedic elements is ultimately successful.

The script could be finessed and tightened to really fulfill the potential of this show. Shaw repeatedly describes himself as a planner, and the stage is filled with post-it notes; however, this realization is peripheral to the actual story told, and its significance is never fully realized by the audience. Large time gaps exist between some of these stories and although Midnight Baby focuses on Shaw’s relationships with others, the resolution of these relationships is never shared, leaving the ending feeling somewhat unsatisfying. Despite these flaws, Shaw tells a beautiful story, executed with grace and an intuitive understanding of comedy. There is much potential in both the production and Shaw as a solo performer.

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