Under other circumstances I might be tempted to come up with some quip here about artery-clogging and the name of this show, or something in that vein. Even five days later, however, the suckitude of this event, start to finish, continues to lay on me like a smothering blanket. My darling girlfriend and I only had two unpleasant experiences at Fringe this year and this one won the race to the bottom. By about a mile. Or twelve.
Part of me feels bad pulling out the knives for this. Butter: A Love Story is, after all, the creation of a person who signed up to present at Fringe because she had something to say and a passion to perform, and a big part of the Fringe mission is providing such people with a venue they wouldn’t otherwise have. The problem is that while Cantwell’s creation had a somewhat interesting idea and story, she’s clearly got no awareness of that fact that she’s just flat-out bad and there’s apparently a lot of people failing to give her anything resembling constructive guidance. The show she put on could have been somewhat fun and interesting – if not fantastic – if it was done with the awareness that her singing and acting are, to say the least, rough.
The concept of the show is that Sandy Patti has, though pluck and determination, managed to get herself a cooking show despite the fact that she isn’t much of a cook. “Almost home cooking,” she calls it, this assembling of pre-made food into something more for the sake of entertaining. The fact that she’s out of her depth and not quite up to the challenge that she’s set herself up for would be a fine way to make Cantwell’s weaknesses work for her. It wouldn’t even contradict the empowerment message that she’s woven into the show. If it might be a little to winking and ironic, well, that’s almost a requirement at Fringe anyway.
Instead it’s sad and painful, as both Cantwell and her creation Sandy Patti cause you to wince your way through an hour as she’s flat, fails to hit notes, hams it up in all the wrong ways, and just generally make you wish someone would take her aside and say “you are completely failing in what you’re setting out to do.” Somehow I doubt it’s going to happen – the program for Butter included not only thanks to her voice instructor but an ad from him as well. Seeing this show isn’t an enticement to hire him, it’s a warning. The best thing Cantwell could do is realize that if he’s telling her she’s sufficiently competent to do these shows at her current level then he’s pretty clearly unable to accurately asses her and her skill.
Barring that, the rest of us need to just stay away from his teaching and her performing.
This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs