It’s my third day in a row and I’m beginning to feel exhausted. Like Job, God is testing me with torrential rain, also all of my cows are dead. But despite all this, I pull through and watch three shows back to back to back!

Carbon Man-Dating: A Climate themed Gay Romantic Comedy

My first show of the evening was Carbon Man-Dating: A Climate themed Gay Romantic Comedy. Held in the Augsburg studio, the play takes a cue from its venue and plays like a comedic lecture on man’s hubris surrounding climate change and dating. Several aspects of climate science are shown and explained with cited sources and images projected via a powerpoint presentation. The information given explains the dangerous folly of our behavior towards the planet and would be taken seriously if the lecture’s construction was as half as good as it’s research.

For nearly an hour, the sole performer reads from a script in front of him as he went over the information; punctuating each fact with a pun or homo-erotic innuendo. While the juxtaposition of dating was an interesting method to discuss climate change, it just didn’t do enough for this reviewer. Puns and sex jokes aren’t inherently bad, but they demonstrate a level of showmanship one would find on the bus ride back from camp. Initially, the reader’s boyish charm made this an endearing piece to behold but over time even his darling personality couldn’t make up for the style of humor. 

What’s disappointing is these facts are vitally important. Teaching about carbon emissions, cap and trade policy, neonicotinoids, and more requires a spoonful of sugar to help all of this go down. In the end that was the problem of this show, not enough sugar.

Multiverse

If you’re a fan of improv see this show. If you despise improv see this show! My Town Improv provides an improvised piece of science fiction that’s bursting with energy. After taking a single suggestion from the crowd, the quartet tells a hilarious story that resembles Black Mirror. It’s sure to get you laughing, in fact, a few times it even got them laughing. 

Special recognition has to be given to John Hilsen and Shelby Schroeder. Schroeder’s performance both complemented the players around her and created definition in the overall story. The improvisor turns a tense moment into a comedic scene like a magician turns a card trick; by the time you think you know where things are going you’re already set up for a delightful surprise.

John Hilsen composes the show. You feel his work all around the performers without being distracted by it. Like any good composer, John assists every action with a musical reaction making every key as hysterical and spontaneous as the performers in it.

This show was my first piece of improv at the festival. What a great way to introduce myself to the art form.

Quiet Riot!

People tend to have a negative view of mimes. After seeing Quiet Riot! I can only assume this prejudice is born out of ignorance because the mime work in this show was phenomenal. Telling short vignettes, the cast of white-faced mimes makes audiences laugh through the silent examination of social media, Dungeons & Dragons, and other bizarre topics.

One might ask for cohesion in the mime topics, but to that, I ask, why? They’re mimes. You’re rarely going to see them in life. Asking to focus on a singular idea means missing out on the strange physical work found in so many other kinds of stories. Quiet Riot!’s performers use their forms to make scenes that make you laugh. And as wonderful as that is, they also force you to actively imagine a scene by only using their bodies. Scenes can be as small as going to a movie theater or as large as the creation of the world. It’s a treat to see the collaboration of the human form this way. I highly recommend you take the time to witness it. 

Stepping out of the Augusburg campus at 11PM I struggled to find the energy to get home. The Fringe is close to beating me down, but I won’t let it. If I’ve learned anything today it’s that the variety of shows the festival has to offer is worth dying for! And so I prepare myself for another day of theater and physical ruin.