Monday, June 17, 2013

Hollywood Fringe Review: The Road To High Street

Andrew Potter in The Road to High Street

busker (n) : a person who entertains people for money in public places

I decided to see Andrew Potter’s one man show The Road to High Street, a busker’s digital rock & roll story, after reading a glowing recommendation from a theatre colleague who saw it at last year’s Fringe Festival. I trust her judgment and felt that if she loved it that much, there must be something there. Plus, he was back for a second go-round at the Fringe and that's always a good sign.

The topic already interested me as I’m familiar with the world of busking and have many friends who got their start performing for crowds on the street and living off the fortunes gained from passing the hat. It’s a tough life, the success of which depends on one’s ability to be likeable, creative, and flexible in every given moment. You must also wholeheartedly love what you do.

Potter is all of the above and his Fringe show reflects his obvious good nature and appreciation for the time he’s spent entertaining the masses. He sings, he plays guitar, and he tells stories that make you feel like you’re hanging out at a backyard barbecue. A multi-media aspect of the show includes video clips and enhanced photographs that help paint a complete picture of his early days as a busker, for those who have no idea what that means. It’s an imaginative way to go and Potter sells the casual hour of entertainment like a pro.  

He talks of “Living in a Beer Tank” – quite literally – when he first moved to San Francisco with his buddy, Wheeler, the other half of his juggling act. At $200 a month, the beer tank was a steal, and all they could afford in the way of living quarters. No windows, beer stains on the walls, and one bathroom to be shared by all the tenants of the brewing company’s tanks (it was a popular choice for alternative housing) aside, it was a place in which they could develop their act. The images are hilarious, as are the stories about their neighbors, which included a punk rock band and a man named Big Dick. If he didn’t have photographs to prove he was there you might think he’d made it all up. 

“My Sailing Fiasco” is a lesson in what not to do in the water and “The Third Egg” is a groaner of a tale about the duo’s juggling competition act that ends with one of them having to eat a raw egg to satisfy the crowd. Calculate the number of shows they did in a day and someone – usually Potter – consumed an awful lot of albumen. Eeuw.

In one of his sweeter stories he talks about how he convinced his girlfriend to move west (though he could only get her to come as far as Montana). He serenaded her on his guitar over the phone with a charming little fruit and vegetable ditty he wrote to express his feelings. “I can’t wait until we can celery-brate…You’re such a peach and we make a pear…” Corny? Yes. But he must have done something right because she did eventually marry him.

In fact, it is his stories about his family that make the show more than just a comedian’s typical song and dance down memory lane. Boats and his dad, the ballet and his daughter – plus a final tribute to the buskers he’s known – and you’ve got a slice of an artist’s life that just might make you think about your own. This was a great way to spend an hour at the Fringe; with an engaging Renaissance man, his electric guitar, and a whole lot of stories I guarantee you’ve never heard anywhere else.

Through June 30, 2013

Theatre Asylum (Asylum Lab)
1078 Lillian Way, Los Angeles, CA 90038

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