I thought I was arriving at the Playwright’s Center with plenty of time to spare, but I only made it two steps up the staircase before being told the show was sold out. Apparently They Called Her Captain was not in the cards for me. (Sorry, Dawn Brodey!) I glanced at my phone as I hustled back to my car. 9:45. Could I possibly make it to another show before the 10pm cut-off?
I climbed into my Scion, cranked up some Lee Dorsey and headed west on Franklin, running scenarios in my head as I drove. The closest Fringe hub would be the West Bank, but parking over there is a nightmare on any Friday, and tonight was the Vikings first preseason game. What would be my next nearest option? Lyn-Lake? I could jag south and try to take Lake to HUGE… Or would Intermedia Arts would be easier to park at? I decided that would be my destination, although I had no clue what was playing there.
Time was running out as I crested the hill where Franklin drops down to Lyndale. 9:56. There was no way I could make Intermedia in four minutes, was there? As I waited desperately for enough of a gap to swing a left turn, I glanced across the street. Theatre Garage! I’d completely forgotten that was a Fringe venue. I spotted a parking space out front of the Red Dragon, backed in and sprinted up the street to the theater door. The staff hurried me into the theater, tearing my ticket on the move. I slid into an aisle seat just as Siddeeqah Shabazz emerged from behind the curtain and started screaming about breathing fire. As I caught my breath, I wondered what play I was here to see.
Turns out I was there for Consequences of Kissing Dragons, Lisa Day’s clever, talky and low-key portrait of one young couple’s troubled relationships with each other and their respective imaginary friends: an impotent dragon and a talking bicycle. It’s a fitfully funny, often insightful play that makes excellent use of crepe paper. It’s not the type of show that’s going to pull in sell-out crowds or top the critics’ lists, but, like The Unknown Matters, it’s just the sort of thing I like to see: a well-written, rough-edged personal piece that takes some chances and feels like somebody’s pride and joy.
Consequences of Kissing Dragons almost certainly would have flown under my radar if not for the circumstances of this particular evening, and I’m glad it didn’t. I had a smile on my face as I strolled back to my car, watching the usual parade of 11pm Lyndale drunks stagger past. In that context, the bleary-eyed bridal party and barrel-chested bros stumbling up the sidewalk felt like just an extension of a night at the theater. I was tempted to cap it all off by nipping into the Red Dragon for a drink, but I know better than to down one of their cocktails if I have any intention of getting behind the wheel.
I don’t want to get too grandiose, but this whole evening helped me put in perspective just what’s so special about Fringe. How amazing is it to be turned away from one top-flight performance and still have 15 other options to fall back on? To be able to wander into a random theater with no clue of what’s playing and walk out satisfied? Heck, just to be able to see a play at 10 at night? And in a broader scope, it’s a reminder of what’s so great about living in the Twin Cities. Even when Fringe isn’t going on, our options for seeing theater – or music, or comedy, or visual art – on any given weekend are fairly limitless. Sure, there are plenty of cities that can say the same, but there are also plenty that can’t. We’ve got a good thing going here, folks, be it early August, late February or anywhere in between. It’s a privilege to be a part of it.