A unique true pandemic story of comedy and not. Lockdown strands me on the remote holy paradise beach of Gokarna in India. For two long years. In a place so safe I leave my laptop on a table outside for six months. While nothing changes and everything changes. And the outside world seems very faraway…
And I find myself among a highly eclectic mix of freaks, stoners, space-cadets, monks, whizzkids and other assorted outsiders. While a young Indian genius appoints me his guru, his most reluctant guru. Yet all is so paradisic, I am struck by the big question: Am I dead? Is this the Afterlife? A much better Afterlife than I in any way deserve? And who can I say “thank you” to, for all this luck and beauty? … Comic weirdness, human snapshots and a person-shaped hole in the fence. … Jem Rolls has done more Fringe Festivals this century than anyone else on earth. And received 40+ five star reviews from Montreal Gazette, Winnipeg Free Press, Edmonton Journal and many many more.
2 responses to “jem rolls MAXIMUM CRUSOE”
From Matt Palm, Orlando Sentinel.
“Where were you when the world shut down in 2020?” might be approaching the end of its lifespan as a show concept, but don’t discount it just yet. In “Jem Rolls: Maximum Crusoe” ), Rolls tells of his time spent on the coast of India during the COVID-19 pandemic with a rat-a-tat style that doesn’t flag.
This isn’t a high-concept show about the meaning of life or the value of human interaction or how to make the best of an unfathomable situation, and yet, with Rolls’ amusing anecdotes and sharply drawn characters, that’s exactly what this sketch of a moment in time becomes.
And because he’s a poet, expect lots of nifty turns of phrase: He had gone to India to “pursue idleless as an extreme sport,” Fringe vet Rolls tells us. He found so much more.”
Jem Rolls’ MAXIMUM CRUSOE, straight from the U.K. His tale of being stranded on an Indian beach during the Pandemic is the first Fringe show that I got to see this year.
Tall and very British, barefoot and bearded like Tom Hanks hanging with Wilson in Cast Away, Mr. Rolls cuts an imposing figure. Looking like a mad artist, he has an intense stare, hawk eyes; he resembles a bearded Jeff Corey. And, bathed in a sole spotlight, he exudes so much charisma and likability as he uses the entire stage to dive into his tale.
“How was YOUR 2020?” Mr. Rolls asks at the top, and we all titter as we submerge into our own memories of that fateful time. But they are nothing like his true story of spending 656 days as the only atheist on the Indian beach during the pandemic where “every day is like Sunday…Same, same, but the same.” We flashback to that scary time where the world was frightening and we weren’t guaranteed a tomorrow. Or, as Mr. Rolls puts it, “The future has now been abbreviated and is now the F.U.”
Mr. Rolls is a powerful writer, his words poetically swim at us… from holy pilgrimage sights to Lord Shiva and the great Ganesha with an elephant head. Mr. Rolls tells of the goodness of so many souls and even passes on a guide for living: “A laptop, bank card, and passport…that’s all you need in life.”
After the show, I was shocked to learn that an entire hour had flown by; I thought it had just been a half hour or less. But that’s proof that we’re under the spell of a master storyteller.
MAXIMUM CRUSOE is Maximum Entertainment. Namaste!