I've Been Elvita Adams

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Photo Source: Robert Piwko/GFEST
Audience participation generally gives me the screaming fantods, and Ashley Lloyd Smith's one-man show about the lighter side of suicide has a lot of it. Worse, when I dutifully called out the inane Barbara Walters–style question I was given to ask at a specified moment in the show ("If you were an animal, what type of animal would you be?"), Smith promptly dismissed it as a silly question. The gall!

All might have been forgiven if Smith had won the audience over to his side, but the storytelling is neither vivid nor coherent enough to do the trick. True, he sports a very fetching summer frock as Elvita (who actually did jump from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building, only to be blown back onto the floor below), and he throws a few other characters into the mix, notably the gruff cop who tries to talk Elvita down from the ledge. Unfortunately, we're always aware that we're watching an actor doing his multiple-character bit.

Smith also has a tendency to go off on tangents that have no apparent connection with the central theme, notably the closing sing-along, a profane ode to the English East Midlands city of Derby. In addition to being beside the point, the lyric alludes so specifically to Smith's native U.K. that the stateside audience is left scratching its collective head.

Presented by Comfortism as part of the New York International Fringe Festival at Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie St., NYC. Aug. 19–28. Remaining performances: Thu., Aug. 25, 5 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 28, noon. (866) 468-7619 or www.fringenyc.org.