Somewhere in the world there’s a town where injustice reigns, a tyrant has a jones for cleaning up the streets, and a group of singing vagrants find themselves on the receiving end of the broom and the knife. The town, ironically, is called Justice; the tyrant is a can-do mayor, and the vagrants are led by a jesting panhandler named Kenneth.
Hobo was written by College of Charleston theatre major Henry Riggs with his friends Chris Gingrich and John Brennan. Their aim was to create a silly musical with dramatic situations so heightened that the audience would be too busy laughing to balk at the unlikely premise. It’s absurd not just because the hobos like to launch into rock ballad renditions, but also because the mayor goes to such extremes to be rid of her homeless pests — she orders her goons to knock them off, one at a time.
Since the cast are able to keep up the silliness while embellishing the characters and social themes, audiences have embraced this production; CP readers voted it their favorite non-Piccolo/Spoleto show last year. But Riggs considers previous performances as workshops in preparation for the main event — the Piccolo Fringe run. Eighteen months in the making, this is a stripped-down, “Hobo Abridged” one-act show that retains the best music and gags from a recent two-hour version. Best of all for fans of in-your-face theatre, it’s in the extra-intimate Buxton East Bay Theatre, where audiences will be so close to the actors, they’ll be able to smell their breath — or hand them a quarter. —Nick Smith
HOBO THE MUSICAL • Piccolo Spoleto’s Piccolo Fringe • $15 • (1 hour) • May 26, June 8 and 9 at 7 p.m.; May 27 at 8.30 p.m. • Buxton’s East Bay Theatre, 184 East Bay St. • 554-6060