As Ragulabuggla – A Tale About an Environmental Refugee begins one may begin to feel as if they have accidentally found themselves in the wrong place, but sit tight and you will soon be taken on a strange and enjoyable ride which strenuously rides the line between absurdly funny and emotionally devastating. However, the story suffers a bit from attempting to cover too much ground in an hour. There was discussion of love, an array of social and political themes, bizarre anecdotes, and because of this, it all seemed a bit glossed over. On the other hand, the performances and the music were all very strong and very entertaining, and in the end, the show had a lot to offer and will certainly hold one’s attention from beginning to end.
The show opens with a hilarious, yet brief, performance by a man playing a woman. This was one of the highlights of the show, and it functioned perfectly to grab the audiences attention and get them interested in the plot. Though it is a bit mysterious what exactly it has to do with the overarching picture until the performance wears on, this only made the introduction more enjoyable, after all was said and done.
The play rode upon the beautiful, persistent piano work that seemed to match Ragulabuggla’s emotional twists and turns with deft precision. The pianist’s work kept everything aloft, this is not to undermine the great work of the actors, but the play would not have hit as deeply if it were not for the guidance of the backing music to drive all the thoughts and ideas home. It is a music heavy performance, and this is not a bad thing at all.
There was a point, or shall I say points, behind everything that happened in the play, though the message often seemed a bit scattered with no single point hitting home too heavily. You may have a grin spread across your face or your heart may sink, and more than likely, you’ll have no clue why. This worked as both a strength and a weakness for the production. It showed the flexibility within the acting and sent the audience through a vast array of emotions, but it also made the show seem frantic and unfocused. It is hard to gauge how one will respond to this. Some may find the quirky range of messages and emotions enjoyable, but others may find it to be a bit too much, never really building upon any one idea or emotion enough to be affecting.
The lead performer did a splendid job. His facial expressions were on point and he had the audience in the palm of his hand. Everyone was sympathizing with his stories and listening to every word he said with full attention. He would take them from laughter to sadness in a matter of seconds. Both his delivery of the dialogue and his physical comedy were superb. He had greater banter and interaction with the audience. Many times audience members are hoping that the performers don’t call the attention to them during the performance, but in this case, it appeared that people were thinking, “Pick me! Pick!”
This performance was a multimedia affair. Along with the acting and the piano work, there were also snippets of video in between scenes. These mostly consisted of humorous physical comedy centered around an inner tube, but they served their purpose and gave the audience a good laugh, while the actor went backstage for a costume brief change. Though one may not think, “My, that is might fine cinematography there!” They will most likely welcome the diversity of the experience with its music, acting, and video. It always keeps it fresh.
Though the messages were spread a bit thin, one cannot help but admire the scope of the vision. Everything about the show was absolutely solid, it only suffered from being too ambitious in its meaning. However, the audience walked out pleased, and everyone seemed to have been touched by Ragulabuggla in some way, so it a show worth seeing. It would seem that everyone will walk away from it feeling something different, and taking something a little different, than the person sitting next to them. Plus, the sounds and the performances are something to behold. So, check this Fringe show out if you get a chance, you certainly won’t regret it. Then leave us some comments and tell us what you think!
– Mason Parker, Prague Film & Theater Center