Mustardseed

Mustardseed is a bedtime story for adults, in which Ryan Good (Neo-Futurists alumni and star of Cosmonaut) invites a small audience into the intimate loft of the busy Tuxedo Cat. There, they make themselves comfortable on the beanbag recliners (which later become the building materials for an epic pillow fort) as Good treats them to a coming-of-age story of the dragon 'Ezmerelda' and her journey to the moon.

I had the opportunity to see this show very late in its run, and I was therefore expecting Good would have long ago worked through any of the roughness that you would expect to find in a show as esoteric as this one. But it is not yet the smooth-worn pebble that it could be, and there is significant tension between the improvised and pre-rehearsed material.

This was particularly apparent when I was asked to provide the details for Ezmerelda's relationship with her father, and I gave a story which accidentally contradicted the pre-written narrative. And so my answer was treated as non-canon, and discarded. This would have not been very notable in itself but, more bizarrely, Good handed out 'costumes' to the audience (really just hats) with attached character descriptions, and I was sure these were going to come into play at some point. But then they just didn't. This was perhaps an element that worked better on other nights, but I couldn't help but feel it was a touch better left abandoned.

Despite this confused start, though, this turned out to be quite a great little show. A lot of this was due to Good's sensibilities as a performer: he is self-assured, good-natured, and just a little bit sweet. And he is helped along with the pre-recorded material by the band Dirty Little Blondes (Kendra Moriah and Mark Sandusky), which was an absolute delight. But ultimately what I loved most about this show was how perfectly resonate its themes were: where Ezmerelda was the dragon on the cusp of her maturity, we were a set of adults donning silly hats, playing at nap-time, and thoroughly engaging with our inner child.

This is the most adorable of Fringe shows: an enveloping hug which offered something of a vaporwave-lite refuge from the noise and fury of the festival. (Which, appropriately enough, was always bleeding through the floor of the loft – sometimes complimenting the show, with its thumps and yells, and often disrupting it.) A lovely event, even with all its quirks, which offers something quite special and unique.

★★★½