Fringe Round-up 08/13/2013 - 12:14am

There we have it. Minnesota Fringe 2013 is in the books and we have another year to wait before we can again submerge ourselves in that much theater. Even with six Playlist bloggers out on the town, we couldn’t possibly cover every show in the fest, but we made our best run at it. Here are some brief thoughts on 55 of the shows we saw, compiled alphabetically for your perusal. If you agree, disagree or see we’ve missed a show that merits a mention, tell us all about it in the comments. ‘Til next Fringe! APPEARING LIVE! Magician Derek Hughes has been perfecting his skills for over 30 years and it shows. Or rather it doesn’t show at all. – Paul de Cordova Apocalypse Clown! A sweet little show that made me forget that stuffed toy clown in Poltergeist. – Paul de Cordova Bidgood to BidGREAT: Bumps and Blunders on the Boulevard to Brilliance I couldn’t ask for a better start to the Fringe. It’s a charming show with a warm friendly audience. I walk out feeling part of something. – Paul de Cordova Cecilies Each performer brought such imagination and life into a hugely energetic, acrobatic, and graceful show that was smooth and deliberate, yet organic and breathing with each beat. – Lisa Hu Clocked The connections between the performers were so apparent and made every segment sparkle with that feeling you should get at a musical. – Kenna Cottman Comedy vs. Calories: FIGHT! An appropriately energetic, charmingly ragged production that captured the spirit of opening night. – Ira Brooker Consequences of Kissing Dragons A fitfully funny, often insightful play that makes excellent use of crepe paper. - Ira Brooker The Cosmic Equation = 2 Wives + 2 Husbands ÷ Adventure If you are willing to unhinge that part of your brain that insists on some shred of reality, then you might enjoy the zaniness that these actors full-heartedly embrace. They know it’s fucking weird, trust me. And they love it. And that is kind of a beautiful thing to see. – Lisa Hu Dear Madde As she sings scripted songs and letters, she occasionally dips into the audience's submissions for in-the-moment-improv genius. – Dawn Brodey A Twin Cities comedy fixture gets to spread her wings and take the stage [with] a clever device that pulls us into the comedy and vulnerability of the lovelorn and lost. – Paul de Cordova Elysium Blues This made my soul sing. Stunning vocalists with effortless emotion, careful treatment of the abyss of domestic violence, and representations of the dangerous beauty and unsung heroism of stories we tell our children. – Lisa Hu Elysium Blues sent up the standard in a thoughtful and sharp way, and as an overall concept, it was bomb. – Kenna Cottman I liked the show, everyone was good blah, blah, blah. But guys... when this Eric Mayson made his entrance... Pure rock n’ roll, leather jacket, guitar slung over his back, on a mission to save his woman - and then he sings and it’s like... wha? I actually had to cover my mouth to stop the fluttering gasps and giggles. – Dawn Brodey I don’t really care for musicals but this one got me. – Paul de Cordova Expiration Date Expiration Date was great. Full and interesting and well-performed... – Dawn Brodey A great start to my fringe. – Joshua Humphrey Fashion Risk or the Accidental Nudist What I left thinking about was, I believe, at least part of the show’s intention; to reexamine nudity as something other than the required state for sex or bathing. To consider one’s existence as an animal on the earth who is, in their natural state, naked. The show doesn’t necessarily encourage a nudist existence for the audience, but invites them to be comfortable with nudity for awhile. Laugh with it, at the very least. – Dawn Brodey Yes there’s a lot of skin and at first it’s shocking, but it quickly becomes not such a big deal. And Natalie Wass’ story is more than worth a listen. – Paul de Cordova The Final Act I feel this Elizabethan Noir tale is Tedious Brief’s best work, and if you're a fan of Marlowe and the hard-boiled genre, this will hit you in your sweet spot. – Joshua Humphrey Fixed In One Long Gaze The piece was certainly beautiful and definitely made me respect dancers and their craft. I just feel awful that I am far too ignorant to offer constructive or meaningful feedback on this one. – Lisa Hu Four Humors’ Lolita: A Three-Man Show Beneath its slapsticky surface, this play had plenty to say about art, pop culture, hell, even American society in general. – Ira Brooker A Gentle Spirit The show, to be fair, is exactly what people who like Dostoyevsky are looking for. Long (one hour became four, don’t know how), slow, dark, painful, and meandering. – Dawn Brodey Get Ready for the Vagina Fairy Performer Rebecca Kling literally bared it all - allowing us to see her nakedness; acknowledging the ways it may intrigue and repulse us. – Dawn Brodey This is a strong and uncommonly informative work, in part because, as Rebecca herself acknowledges, while most of us have heard of transgendered people, very few of us have first hand experience with them. I was fascinated, entertained and enlightened. – Paul de Cordova Gray Matter So here’s my schlubby, middle-aged, theatre trained self giving you a quick opinion of what I saw. It was pretty darn good. I think. – Paul de Cordova Through a combination of its subject matter and the distance I placed myself from the performers, I find myself thinking about Gray Matter time and again. – Joshua Humphrey Grimm for Kids A string of understated adaptations delivered mostly irony-free, thank heavens. This was slower going than the previous plays my 3 ½-year-old has seen, but he was unquestionably into it. – Ira Brooker Gwen and Mary at Glen Ross Colfax Theater is doing good work, they got me caring about these characters like they are gonna keep living after the play! – Kenna Cottman Hello Stranger It was uncomfortable, it was organic, it was fun. This show will make you smile and appreciate the ritual of entering an audience to create something new in 60 minutes. Shouldn’t all theater do something of the sort? – Lisa Hu Because Debra Berger is engaging, her accompaniment reacting to and inspiring her, and the voice over narration describing what it sees so as to pull you into what's happening, you are there and you don't want to be anywhere else. You want to be. – Joshua Humphrey Hickory Minimum Security Correctional Facility Presents: Hoosiers: The Stage Adaptation They not only had the audience in stitches, they had each other breaking up from time to time. Which only makes us laugh more. – Paul de Cordova How To Become a Complete (Southern) Woman A show that pulled at my native Texan heart. The sound of her grandmother’s voice mail made me homesick. – Paul de Cordova I Have Aspergers, What’s Your Excuse After pondering this show for a bulk of the time since, my hunch is this: What we experienced was a hand-held tour through the unfamiliar synapses of his brain. A short ride aboard the current of thoughts that seem to us disjointed and vulgar - because they are disjointed and vulgar - but are his very natural state. – Dawn Brodey I Make No Promises, But Someone’s Probably Going to Die A new-fashioned laugh riot. Absurd and sharp and strange. – Paul de Cordova Imagination Island: Surviving Reality Her journey is harrowing and grim and ultimately redemptive. And once again, the power of professionalism in the Twin Cities theater community is triumphant. – Paul de Cordova Hope is an accomplished performer and a damn good storyteller, so this baby is not only cute but can also deliver true emotion and dynamic shifts to keep the whole piece balanced. – Kenna Cottman Katharina Von Bora I don’t want to talk about that show. And I don’t have to. – Dawn Brodey The Legend of White Woman Creek In addition to having a fantastic performance from Katie Hartman, it had some of the best lighting choices I've seen this Fringe, accentuating mood and performance while never being distracting. – Joshua Humphrey It was great, as expected, the reviews are right. Music, story, character - all top shelf. – Dawn Brodey Lord of the Files Lesley Tsina had a deadpan delivery that was funny, and her story was engaging. It also felt like a beginning, because as her company dissolved and the show came to an end, I realized that she was definitely no more than a work friend to me - like some of her characters. – Kenna Cottman Marilyn and Jackie at the Pearly Gates Spilling onto the street, I quickly stalk off to avoid the playwright, needing more time to be “diplomatic” about the violence I have just witnessed. – Lisa Hu Men Will Be Boys An examination of male gender roles in our society requires direct looks at misogyny, and some might not be willing to go there. But I hope you do. I really do. – Joshua Humphrey Night of the Mime Seeing this actor in white face was unsettling to me in some unnameable way. Seeing him treated over and over as an animal, as property, as subhuman turned the experience into a horror show. – Paul de Cordova North 83rd Something kept me disconnected from the show--firmly relegated to observer rather than experiencer. – Lisa Hu Ole Olson: Norwegian Boy Wonder It’s the type of thing that would appeal most strongly to smart grade-schoolers, nostalgic seniors and that endearingly large subset of Minnesotans who still crack up over jokes about lutefisk and hot dishes. – Ira Brooker One Hit Thunder It all comes off without a hitch and the show delivers reliably on its promise to make you laugh. – Paul de Cordova Paper Training the Playground Cataholics The actors showed quite a bit of range from scene-to-scene, and therefore were doing their jobs as performers and acting. But while the show was hitting with other people in the audience, it just wasn't hitting with me. - Joshua Humphrey Private School Where was the real effort to support and develop the timid, silenced voice at the heart of this show? With an audience like this one at the Fringe, I wanted more honesty. - Lisa Hu Promiscuous Fiction: The Runaway Stories of Jonathan Lethem I kind of loved it. The stories are little slices of relatively ordinary life – a home break in, a tv pitch meeting, a crumbling marriage – that are each touched by something fantastic. – Paul de Cordova Random Acts of BODYTALK This was movement as an expression of joy, choreographed and directed with an eye for arresting imagery. – Ira Brooker Schrödinger's Apocalypse A tight three person No Exit riff set during a zombie (fast or slow? viral or supernatural?) apocalypse. – Joshua Humphrey Standing on the Hollow As the full house was exiting the theater, I was still searching for a way to describe what I had just seen: ' an emotional seizure...' No. '...made me feel sympathy-breathiness...' No, Dawn, dumb. – Dawn Brodey I was mesmerized by the music. Julie Johnson played the bass flute and loped it with a pedal to create some amazing earthy sounds - the sounds of the flute that I heard were sometimes guttural and rhythmic and totally unexpected. – Kenna Cottman Teenage Misery: A Horror Musical Not only were the characters and jokes relatable and largely well-timed through the work of director Callie Meiners, these pieces I wanted to dislike all worked. - Lisa Hu The Television Will Not Be Revolutionized It’s sort of like someone adapted your buddy who’s always talking about moving to Portland’s 2012 Facebook feed into a stage production. - Ira Brooker There’s No Place Like Home These performers succeed in bringing attention to a crucial issue here in the Twin Cities without preaching or ranting: they just walk you along their journey towards finding assistance for the homeless. That's all you need. – Lisa Hu These Old Shoes At this point in my fringing career, I am hard and jaded and cynical. And yet, tears came at the end of These Old Shoes. They squeezed them out of me, even though I was being as stingy as I possibly could be. – Joshua Humphrey They Called Her Captain Walking into the theater I see the set and understand that I’m in the hands of professionals. The whole package knocks the audience out. – Paul de Cordova Tizi Ouzo Made me forgive myself for not knowing shit about North Africa and just enjoy the way that people everywhere are obsessed with finding a partner. – Paul de Cordova To Mars with Tesla or The Interplanetary Machinations of Evil Thomas Edison The silent film stylized cue cards, the jaunty and familiar music, the physicality and clarity of these performers elevated this silent performance into a truly remarkable and unbelievably hilarious piece. – Lisa Hu The company pulls it off beautifully, reminding me yet again how infinite an instrument the actor’s body can be. – Paul de Cordova Transatlantic Love Affair These are the kinds of stories that draw us in, shelter us in their warmth, and make us hope for happy endings. – Lisa Hu Unknown Matters Whether or not you like it or even get it (and I’m not sure how much those two things impact each other), Unknown Matters’ themes of exploration, personal connection and the mysteries of outer space work wonderfully as a prelude to the evening sky. – Ira Brooker The Vindlevoss Family Circus Spectacular I found the combination of physical theatre, clowning, and becoming (super)human incredibly charming. Like most shows I enjoy, I felt a little sad when it ended because I wanted it to go on for longer and live in the world that the Animal Engine team created. – Joshua Humphrey Wanderlust He was a damn good storyteller, and he was making a bunch of points about his personal growth and development and that is all good stuff. He also cracked some jokes that bugged me and was so culturally white, just so so white, that some of the stuff he was saying about his experiences made me cringe. – Kenna Cottman Who’s on First?: 50 Years of the Doctor in Less Than 50 Minutes I wanted to love it, but was really distanced by lackluster acting, lots of yelling and bickering, and a confusing direction. Not a great homage to a brilliant TV legacy. – Lisa Hu A Woman’s Works From the striking choreography to the dancers’ bold personalities to Karin Olson’s breathtaking lighting design, this performance floored me. – Ira Brooker Yelling at Bananas in Whole Foods It reincarnated '90s infomercial queen Susan Powter and made me feel guilty about how much junk I eat. So much so that I decamped immediately to Pizza Luce for a couple of slices a coke and a brownie. – Paul de Cordova
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