Jeff Gandell performed his new show “Danger Unit” yesterday as part of the third night of the SOLOS Festival . Not knowing what to expect, I was pleasantly taken in and enamored with this coming of age tale. It was a gentle and charming story about a young boy and his friends. However, it was a little rough around the edges due to minor performance trip ups, which were understandable considering it was the first performance. Gandell took the audience back to his youth as a ten-year-old boy in the 1980s on the cusp of losing his childhood innocence; the world is seemingly falling apart with news of the AIDS epidemic, the Satanic Daycare sex abuse scandal, and the Tylenol poisoning incident. He takes it upon himself to rally his friends to create Danger Unit, a vigilante crime fighting group to save the world.
The set was minimalist, with a simple chair used as the primary prop depending on what the scene called for. Gandell was excellently descriptive in his storytelling, both feeding the audience imagery of the scene and the actions, as well as giving insight into young Jeff’s thoughts. The story was heartwarming with comedic moments strewn in which kept it light. For example, the running gag of Nathan “the wild card” consistently giving destructive suggestions and Danny “the muscle” punching walls in frustration. The journey and subtlety of Gandell’s storytelling was a joy to watch and I suggest keeping an eye out for another performance by this artist.
Tonight, Saturday, November 9th, is the last night of the SOLOS Festival at the MainLine Theatre. I look forward to next year for another round of great talents and storytelling.