“Total Eclipse of the Heart”: A Minnesota Fringe Festival art farce

“Total Eclipse of the Heart”: A Minnesota Fringe Festival art farce

Before Illusion Theater’s house lights went down on Total Eclipse of the Heart, I pulled up the lyrics to Bonnie Tyler’s 1983 anthem and quickly studied them, assuming the show would be full of sly references. It turned out that I did need the lyrics—but not for the reason I thought.

Though the song is credited for inspiring this farce, and though it appears in the show multiple times—once in its original version, twice played on sax, once on piano, and once as an all-in singalong—there aren’t any literal powder kegs to be seen in this soap-opera-like story about love and deceit at an art gallery.

I wasn’t given a program and information on the show’s Fringe page is scant, so I can’t credit all the performers, but I can say that local theater vet Christopher Kehoe directed the show and stars in the dual role of a pop star and the mousey twin brother who tries to impersonate him. I can also say that I was delighted to find that Todd O’Dowd—a man-about-town who’s managing editor of l’etoile magazine—onstage in the role of a starry-eyed superfan.

The show unfolds in a series of sketches, with the cast throwing themselves into their larger-than-life characters but not really being given any place to land. With an episodic plot that never gains momentum, the show eventually slumps into a tedium that’s only occasionally relieved by sparks of inspiration (for example, there’s an amusing icy makeup-off). Total Eclipse feels, unfortunately, unfinished.

Jay Gabler