BLACKBOXING

Critics

LemonMeter

100 %

Reviews: 5

Audience

LemonMeter

100 %

Reviews: 10

Travis, a neophyte actor, thinks he's all ready for his one-man show. His Stage Manager Jim thinks otherwise.

Reviews

Avatar

What I liked

Bouncing across about a thousand different kinds of comedic setups could be exhausting in the wrong hands, but Matt Ritchey has the exact right hands — well, one right and one left, but he uses both of them to great effect, and his voice is pretty spectacular too, whether he’s singing or yelling or doing accents. The “radio play” scene alone is worth the price of admission and proof that he’s has been hiding too many of his talents (or maybe he’s just been hiding them from me, but that’s fair because he has no reason to trust me).

Jim Niedzialkowski is hilariously imposing, making plenty of hay (“hay” means “comedy” here) out of a mostly voice-only role.

What I didn't like

There might have been a few Fringe/theatrical in-jokes that went over my head, but everyone around me was roaring at them, so this is probably less a criticism and more a commentary on my not having seen enough shows. What was the question again?

My overall impression

Ridiculously entertaining and thoroughly delightful, with the kind of lead performance that Travis Acedia would surely call a “tour de force.”

sweet - Nick Rheinwald-Jones


fonprods

All I have to say is that after I laughed so hard and probably pulled a muscle or two from it, I left the theatre with tears in my eyes and love in my heart. Bravo and thank you Matt and Jim for a truly magical hour of theater! Matt wrote the wackiest and most hilarious script about producing theater in LA I’ve ever seen. Carefully and deliberately directed and crafted, this show had me rolling in my seats and somehow managed to touch me in a way I was not expecting. Absolutely loved it.

sweet - Force of Nature Productions


Avatar

“Blackboxing” is the real deal. The show within a show is delightfully immersive, and there isn’t a single wasted second or line of dialogue to explain the concept or linger; the economy of word in this play is one I greatly respect and appreciate. It is a hilarious and heartfelt look at a very relatable, if pompous, actor and his nemesis, the techie; the deeper message of the show and its take on depression is pin sharp and hits home at just the right times, in just the right ways. A strong voice, even stronger performances, and extremely tight directing make this a contender for Best of Fringe in my book.

Matt’s performance is full to bursting with energy; not just a manic BLAH but a well-directed, well-performed explosion of creative expression that has a well-told point and purpose. We all laughed. SO much. The entire audience was in fits throughout the show. When it came time to get serious for a moment, there were still some giggles; but then the somber words and authentic emotions took root and we were spellbound for the big moment. A bit revolving around his parents is impeccably set up, utilized, and payed off in a fashion that speaks to experienced writing and taught directing. (I know I’m repeating myself, but shows like this deserve a resounding ovation.)

What could be improved? Would I have directed it differently (being a director myself)? Would I have cast it differently? Would I make choices that change the DNA of the show? No. This is one of those pieces that is so deeply drenched in the voice of its creator that to change it would be to ruin it. Like my favorite TV show 30 Rock, if there’s ever a joke that doesn’t land the play moves on to the next one so quickly that you don’t care, and don’t remember.

When this show was playing at Fringe I urged people to get tickets before it sold out. I went opening night and came back 2 weeks later. They had to add seats (I'm pretty sure the Fire Marshall would've been grumpy) and it was still sold out. Go see it.

sweet - Michael Willer


Avatar

Masterfully staged and yes, a very, VERY funny jab at the (sometimes) overly self-indulgent solo theatre performers and the hell that actors put stage managers through – but it’s a lot more than that. A lot more. The incredibly powerful ending, authentically exploring depression and suicide, is honest and striking. Moved me to tears in a moment…and kept me there until the end. Beautiful work, Mr. Ritchey. Thank you for sharing this with us.

sweet - Heather Dowling


Stephen Fife

It’s a treat for any theater-lover to see how Ritchey and director Matthew Martin keep all these balls in the air — as satire, physical comedy, original song-and-dance, primal scream, family drama, meta performance piece, and more — while continuing to shade in his portrait of a theatrical novice headed for a breakdown.

sweet - Stephen Fife - Stage Raw - ...read full review


Avatar

A hilarious sendup of an all too common occurrence, the solo show as a showcase or validation. Matt Ritchey takes that and literally runs all over the theater with it, turning it into a silly, sweet existential cry for help. With the aid of the immensely able Jim Niedzialowski, they show the heart at the center of this crazy community. Just don't eat the turkey.

sweet - Jonathan Tipton Meyers


Avatar

Hollywood Fringe’s cup runneth over when it comes to solo performances and Matt Ritchey has got the worst/best one on the schedule with Blackboxing – that is, it is the best one that generally pokes fun at, roasts and otherwise completely skewers the very idea of a solo show and represents the worst example of a solo show you can possibly imagine...

...In other words, he sets us up for a painful ride and then delivers a thoughtful, surprisingly emotional love letter to the theatre.

sweet - Christine Deitner - The Theatre Times - ...read full review


Avatar

Blackboxing is a clever parody of one person shows that manages to deliver an important message without hitting you over the head. I liked everything about this show. Matt is talented and honest while poking fun at the solo genre. The direction was clear and crisp. Jim the Stage Manager expertly executes his role with a beautiful underlying hint of compassion that comes through at the exact right moment. The original songs are fun and playful.

sweet - Christi Pedigo


Avatar

For everyone who has every done a Fringe show, Blackboxing is must see theatre. Matt Ritchey sharpens the blade of his years of festival theatre experience and lovingly skewers every wonderfully awkward stereotype. Matthew Martin’s fluid direction moves Ritchey from performance to performer with ease. And we should ALL have a stage manager as wonderfully honest as Jim Niedzialkowski, who steps out of the booth to keep it real and bring a beautiful heart.

sweet - Jim Blanchette


Avatar

An wickedly funny, laugh out loud (and at times all too real) behind the scenes parody/look at the creation and mounting of an indulgent one person blackbox show. For Fringers and performers alike we can all probably see at least a tiny bit of ourselves in this show which is both scary and brilliant!

What I liked

I loved the interaction of Travis and Jim – especially Jim as the Wizard, hidden behind the scenes as all good wizards should be. I loved that it was, or felt immersive with me actually not having to do work and I still actually felt like part of the piece. The unexpected ending was a nice touch. While we all laughed OUT LOUD the whole time, the ending allowed the audience, of which I assumed many were performers/producers/etc to bond with Travis because as creatives and performers we too are always looking for validation and to be heard.

sweet - Lea Walker


Avatar

What I liked

Matt Ritchey. His character Travis is energetic, charismatic, complex, funny, honest, misguided, entitled, plain wrong, annoying that you can’t help but laugh.
Jim messing up the lighting cues had me rolling, too!
Oh, and that Stinkin’ Turkey song!!!

What I didn't like

Absolutely nothing.

My overall impression

I haven’t laughed this hard at Fringe till Blackboxing. Every stereotypical one man show is explored by Matt Ritchey that it will stay in my memory for Fringe Festivals to come. A must see show for anyone who wants to know what NOT to do when putting up a show at the Fringe.

sweet - Victor Sotomayor


Avatar

But as much as Blackboxing is a metatheatrical parody aimed at its theater-making cohorts, it’s not necessary to have made or even seen a Fringe show to appreciate its heart and humor. Ritchey is completely invested in his character, and goes all out in performing over-the-top interpretive dance, original (terrible) songs, and enacting multiple characters from a radio play. His sense of timing is impeccable—he knows exactly how long to allow for audience reaction for his many “groaner” lines—and he’s remarkably good with dialects (it’s Travis’ one actual talent, apparently.) - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

sweet - Nikki Muller - Fringe Review UK - ...read full review


Monique LeBleu

Actor and writer, Matt Ritchey, takes an insightful and loving dig into theatre and theatre-types, through his character “Travis,” in his show “Blackboxing” at the Dorie Theatre at the Complex, for the Hollywood Fringe Festival 2019 throughout the month of June...A “one-man show, with a two-person cast,” Ritchey's “Blackboxing” hysterically goes to the mattresses with the odd and occasional solo show that tends to take the opportunity to use the stage as; a) a reason to regurgitate their life story; b) a form of personal therapy, or; c) a vehicle for their own masturbatory amusement—or all three.

sweet - Monique LeBleu - ...read full review


Avatar

Long-time Fringe veteran Matt Richey has mounted his best show ever, a show that would sweep the Tonys if it was on Broadway. It told the story that every stage manager has probably experienced at one time or another, and allowed said Stage Manager to say and do things they’ve always dreamed of doing.

sweet - Bob Leggett - LA Music Critic - ...read full review


Avatar

The in-character programs are genius. Revel in its glory.

Right, the show itself, right:

This show hits the nail right on the head in so many ways. The jokes are like precision nuclear strikes of satire, leaving swaths of trope devastation in the aftermath.

Last minute Fringe nightmares? Check. Overly optimistic ambitions for what can be accomplished on the technical side? Check. Overinflated ego? Check. Therapy onstage? Check. A tear-down of every bad solo-show habit in existence? Check.

Which is to say nothing of the lovely rapport between Matt and Jim. Their timing is impeccable, from every one of Jim’s beleaguered groans to Matt’s interpretive dance shimmies. There are also several brilliant gags that make use of the space in really creative ways. I’m just going to say Indiana Jones and leave it at that.

And of course it has to go and be poignant too, going a little deeper into the neuroses that drive people to create shows like this – hell, that drive people to create in general. One of the big themes of this show that really resonated with me was about how sometimes, directly communicating with people is very hard. Sometimes, an expensive, over-the-top piece of “art” is somehow easier.

This show will work best on those who have produced at Fringe before. That’s not to say you won’t enjoy it if you haven’t, but the more familiar you are with the subject material, the more mileage you’ll get out of it. Some jokes that will seem purely silly to one person will be bitingly satirical to another.

There was a transition from being in tech rehearsal to being in performance that was a little jarring. I was unsure that the transition had even happened until a couple minutes in. Not a huge issue, but the ambiguity took me out a tad.

Your mileage may also vary depending on your tolerance for novelty songs. For my personal tastes, “Smellay Lahk A Turkey” began to wear thin after the first chorus, mostly because I wanted to go back to the beyond hysterical banter between Matt and Jim.

Oh, what a tasty skewering of Fringe and solo shows we have here. Blackboxing is absurd but at the same time so painfully true that anyone familiar with the subject matter will be delighted.

sweet - Drew Petriello


Stephen Fife

It’s a treat for any theater-lover to see how Ritchey and director Matthew Martin keep all these balls in the air — as satire, physical comedy, original song-and-dance, primal scream, family drama, meta performance piece, and more — while continuing to shade in his portrait of a theatrical novice headed for a breakdown.

sweet - Stephen Fife - Stage Raw - ...read full review


Avatar

Hollywood Fringe’s cup runneth over when it comes to solo performances and Matt Ritchey has got the worst/best one on the schedule with Blackboxing – that is, it is the best one that generally pokes fun at, roasts and otherwise completely skewers the very idea of a solo show and represents the worst example of a solo show you can possibly imagine...

...In other words, he sets us up for a painful ride and then delivers a thoughtful, surprisingly emotional love letter to the theatre.

sweet - Christine Deitner - The Theatre Times - ...read full review


Avatar

But as much as Blackboxing is a metatheatrical parody aimed at its theater-making cohorts, it’s not necessary to have made or even seen a Fringe show to appreciate its heart and humor. Ritchey is completely invested in his character, and goes all out in performing over-the-top interpretive dance, original (terrible) songs, and enacting multiple characters from a radio play. His sense of timing is impeccable—he knows exactly how long to allow for audience reaction for his many “groaner” lines—and he’s remarkably good with dialects (it’s Travis’ one actual talent, apparently.) - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

sweet - Nikki Muller - Fringe Review UK - ...read full review


Monique LeBleu

Actor and writer, Matt Ritchey, takes an insightful and loving dig into theatre and theatre-types, through his character “Travis,” in his show “Blackboxing” at the Dorie Theatre at the Complex, for the Hollywood Fringe Festival 2019 throughout the month of June...A “one-man show, with a two-person cast,” Ritchey's “Blackboxing” hysterically goes to the mattresses with the odd and occasional solo show that tends to take the opportunity to use the stage as; a) a reason to regurgitate their life story; b) a form of personal therapy, or; c) a vehicle for their own masturbatory amusement—or all three.

sweet - Monique LeBleu - ...read full review


Avatar

Long-time Fringe veteran Matt Richey has mounted his best show ever, a show that would sweep the Tonys if it was on Broadway. It told the story that every stage manager has probably experienced at one time or another, and allowed said Stage Manager to say and do things they’ve always dreamed of doing.

sweet - Bob Leggett - LA Music Critic - ...read full review


Avatar

What I liked

Bouncing across about a thousand different kinds of comedic setups could be exhausting in the wrong hands, but Matt Ritchey has the exact right hands — well, one right and one left, but he uses both of them to great effect, and his voice is pretty spectacular too, whether he’s singing or yelling or doing accents. The “radio play” scene alone is worth the price of admission and proof that he’s has been hiding too many of his talents (or maybe he’s just been hiding them from me, but that’s fair because he has no reason to trust me).

Jim Niedzialkowski is hilariously imposing, making plenty of hay (“hay” means “comedy” here) out of a mostly voice-only role.

What I didn't like

There might have been a few Fringe/theatrical in-jokes that went over my head, but everyone around me was roaring at them, so this is probably less a criticism and more a commentary on my not having seen enough shows. What was the question again?

My overall impression

Ridiculously entertaining and thoroughly delightful, with the kind of lead performance that Travis Acedia would surely call a “tour de force.”

sweet - Nick Rheinwald-Jones


fonprods

All I have to say is that after I laughed so hard and probably pulled a muscle or two from it, I left the theatre with tears in my eyes and love in my heart. Bravo and thank you Matt and Jim for a truly magical hour of theater! Matt wrote the wackiest and most hilarious script about producing theater in LA I’ve ever seen. Carefully and deliberately directed and crafted, this show had me rolling in my seats and somehow managed to touch me in a way I was not expecting. Absolutely loved it.

sweet - Force of Nature Productions


Avatar

“Blackboxing” is the real deal. The show within a show is delightfully immersive, and there isn’t a single wasted second or line of dialogue to explain the concept or linger; the economy of word in this play is one I greatly respect and appreciate. It is a hilarious and heartfelt look at a very relatable, if pompous, actor and his nemesis, the techie; the deeper message of the show and its take on depression is pin sharp and hits home at just the right times, in just the right ways. A strong voice, even stronger performances, and extremely tight directing make this a contender for Best of Fringe in my book.

Matt’s performance is full to bursting with energy; not just a manic BLAH but a well-directed, well-performed explosion of creative expression that has a well-told point and purpose. We all laughed. SO much. The entire audience was in fits throughout the show. When it came time to get serious for a moment, there were still some giggles; but then the somber words and authentic emotions took root and we were spellbound for the big moment. A bit revolving around his parents is impeccably set up, utilized, and payed off in a fashion that speaks to experienced writing and taught directing. (I know I’m repeating myself, but shows like this deserve a resounding ovation.)

What could be improved? Would I have directed it differently (being a director myself)? Would I have cast it differently? Would I make choices that change the DNA of the show? No. This is one of those pieces that is so deeply drenched in the voice of its creator that to change it would be to ruin it. Like my favorite TV show 30 Rock, if there’s ever a joke that doesn’t land the play moves on to the next one so quickly that you don’t care, and don’t remember.

When this show was playing at Fringe I urged people to get tickets before it sold out. I went opening night and came back 2 weeks later. They had to add seats (I'm pretty sure the Fire Marshall would've been grumpy) and it was still sold out. Go see it.

sweet - Michael Willer


Avatar

Masterfully staged and yes, a very, VERY funny jab at the (sometimes) overly self-indulgent solo theatre performers and the hell that actors put stage managers through – but it’s a lot more than that. A lot more. The incredibly powerful ending, authentically exploring depression and suicide, is honest and striking. Moved me to tears in a moment…and kept me there until the end. Beautiful work, Mr. Ritchey. Thank you for sharing this with us.

sweet - Heather Dowling


Avatar

A hilarious sendup of an all too common occurrence, the solo show as a showcase or validation. Matt Ritchey takes that and literally runs all over the theater with it, turning it into a silly, sweet existential cry for help. With the aid of the immensely able Jim Niedzialowski, they show the heart at the center of this crazy community. Just don't eat the turkey.

sweet - Jonathan Tipton Meyers


Avatar

Blackboxing is a clever parody of one person shows that manages to deliver an important message without hitting you over the head. I liked everything about this show. Matt is talented and honest while poking fun at the solo genre. The direction was clear and crisp. Jim the Stage Manager expertly executes his role with a beautiful underlying hint of compassion that comes through at the exact right moment. The original songs are fun and playful.

sweet - Christi Pedigo


Avatar

For everyone who has every done a Fringe show, Blackboxing is must see theatre. Matt Ritchey sharpens the blade of his years of festival theatre experience and lovingly skewers every wonderfully awkward stereotype. Matthew Martin’s fluid direction moves Ritchey from performance to performer with ease. And we should ALL have a stage manager as wonderfully honest as Jim Niedzialkowski, who steps out of the booth to keep it real and bring a beautiful heart.

sweet - Jim Blanchette


Avatar

An wickedly funny, laugh out loud (and at times all too real) behind the scenes parody/look at the creation and mounting of an indulgent one person blackbox show. For Fringers and performers alike we can all probably see at least a tiny bit of ourselves in this show which is both scary and brilliant!

What I liked

I loved the interaction of Travis and Jim – especially Jim as the Wizard, hidden behind the scenes as all good wizards should be. I loved that it was, or felt immersive with me actually not having to do work and I still actually felt like part of the piece. The unexpected ending was a nice touch. While we all laughed OUT LOUD the whole time, the ending allowed the audience, of which I assumed many were performers/producers/etc to bond with Travis because as creatives and performers we too are always looking for validation and to be heard.

sweet - Lea Walker


Avatar

What I liked

Matt Ritchey. His character Travis is energetic, charismatic, complex, funny, honest, misguided, entitled, plain wrong, annoying that you can’t help but laugh.
Jim messing up the lighting cues had me rolling, too!
Oh, and that Stinkin’ Turkey song!!!

What I didn't like

Absolutely nothing.

My overall impression

I haven’t laughed this hard at Fringe till Blackboxing. Every stereotypical one man show is explored by Matt Ritchey that it will stay in my memory for Fringe Festivals to come. A must see show for anyone who wants to know what NOT to do when putting up a show at the Fringe.

sweet - Victor Sotomayor


Avatar

The in-character programs are genius. Revel in its glory.

Right, the show itself, right:

This show hits the nail right on the head in so many ways. The jokes are like precision nuclear strikes of satire, leaving swaths of trope devastation in the aftermath.

Last minute Fringe nightmares? Check. Overly optimistic ambitions for what can be accomplished on the technical side? Check. Overinflated ego? Check. Therapy onstage? Check. A tear-down of every bad solo-show habit in existence? Check.

Which is to say nothing of the lovely rapport between Matt and Jim. Their timing is impeccable, from every one of Jim’s beleaguered groans to Matt’s interpretive dance shimmies. There are also several brilliant gags that make use of the space in really creative ways. I’m just going to say Indiana Jones and leave it at that.

And of course it has to go and be poignant too, going a little deeper into the neuroses that drive people to create shows like this – hell, that drive people to create in general. One of the big themes of this show that really resonated with me was about how sometimes, directly communicating with people is very hard. Sometimes, an expensive, over-the-top piece of “art” is somehow easier.

This show will work best on those who have produced at Fringe before. That’s not to say you won’t enjoy it if you haven’t, but the more familiar you are with the subject material, the more mileage you’ll get out of it. Some jokes that will seem purely silly to one person will be bitingly satirical to another.

There was a transition from being in tech rehearsal to being in performance that was a little jarring. I was unsure that the transition had even happened until a couple minutes in. Not a huge issue, but the ambiguity took me out a tad.

Your mileage may also vary depending on your tolerance for novelty songs. For my personal tastes, “Smellay Lahk A Turkey” began to wear thin after the first chorus, mostly because I wanted to go back to the beyond hysterical banter between Matt and Jim.

Oh, what a tasty skewering of Fringe and solo shows we have here. Blackboxing is absurd but at the same time so painfully true that anyone familiar with the subject matter will be delighted.

sweet - Drew Petriello