We did it! Another Fringe bites the dust, after 10 days of mania, magic, and a third m-word I'm too tired to conjure.

What's the verdict on the after-party at the Loring Pasta Bar? I stayed for a drink, but Monday morning waits for no hungover admin, so I had to skidaddle before things got funky. Was there dancing? Did people talk into microphones and give some official numbers and stats? Was there back-patting and revelry? I assume there was. It's like one of the Fringe shows you let yourself skip because you read the description, read the reviews, know most of the cast, have seen their work before, and you can basically construct the show for yourself in your imagination without actually seeing it.

But hey, did you guys see this? A Craigslist missed connection post by someone looking for their Fringe crush! Awww.

Now that the festival is over I can proclaim that my favorite thing out of the 17 shows that I saw was Ash Land by Transatlantic Love Affair. I know, it would be cooler if my favorite were some under-the-radar show that not many other people saw, but was somehow perfect in its Fringiness and subversive, underdog ethos. But no, my favorite was the best-selling show of the festival. Sorry. But the truth is that they deserve every ounce of the crazed response to their show and every dollar they made during their incredible run, which included one performance that sold out both the main level and the balcony of the Rarig Thrust, without admitting a single rush ticket. Holy smokes.

I think the reason I loved it so much is because it did exactly what I find most thrilling in live performance. They transformed. They sculpted their collective and individual energies into wholly new, surprising and specific shapes, not once, but over and over again throughout the course of the show. John Middleton wrote a great piece for Minnesota Playlist a while ago on transformational acting, which I loved, because it gave me a term to pinpoint what it is I'm most drawn to in art/theater/performance.

I enjoy and recognize the value of actors who do one thing really well--the handsome but troubled leading man, the sexy but secretly vulnerable ingenue, the bombastic professor/grandfather, the robust and jovial sidekick. But what makes me wide-eyed, what delights me, makes me inch forward in my seat, and feel that heart-quickening thrill is actors who somehow manage to surprise me every time with their ability to transform completely, to be unrecognizable from one role to the next. (Middleton does that, by the way, so it was appropriate that he gave me a language with which to talk about this).

Sometimes a production contains one such performance. Many productions contain none. And then there's Ash Land, which was one big transformational performance. The skill with which the performers morphed their own energy and the skill with which director Diogo Lopes molded their collective energy was truly astounding. I can appreciate cleverness, witty dialogue, good comedic timing, beautiful movement, good storytelling, and all the other wonderful things I witnessed this past week, but nothing makes me giddy like witnessing good old fashioned transformation.

And on that note, I'm going to stop talking now. Enough of me and my opinions. I hope everyone had a magnificent Fringe and you all saw some things that thrilled you, whatever they may be. Here's to being thrilled.

Big, big love to all you Fringers. Get some sleep. It'll be early August again before you know it.