Baron Dave Romm (barondave ) wrote,

2009 Minnesota Fringe -- Day 7: oddly dispassionate

Wednesday was designed as an easy day. My major priority was "Death Camp Diaries"; Jimmy Hogg was great last year, and the Harty Boys show was getting good buzz. The middle slot was a bit problematic. What do you see after exploring Nazi concentration camps? I decided to go with an improv show.

Real Life (tm) intruded. I spent a large part of the day paying bills and dealing with Comcast. I headed to Cedar-Riverside later than planned, and completely screwed up parking. Oh well. I went into an expensive lot, had a rushed (but delicious) meal at the Malaysian/Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant K-Wok, and headed to the Rarig in a less than optimal mood. Fortunately, the first show was loads of fun.

Arnie Roos, Rarig basement, 8/5/09 Arnie Roos, Rarig basement, 8/5/09

Arnold Roos, who plays The Platypus in "The Harty Boys in The Case of the Limping Platypus", is a longtime actor, here caught after his show right before "Death Camp Diaries".

The Harty Boys in The Case of the Limping Platypus *****

"This is no time to act your age"

Supremely silly with lots of local references. The Harty Boys are a little more than a children's show, but not by much. The kids are important, the fourth wall smashed, the wrong lessons learned. Four and a half kitties rounded up for simultaneously hewing to the child detective genre and bending all the rules. Oh, and the platypus costume. A Shockwave Radio Theater Review.

Many people have taken on the children's detective genre, with varying degrees of success. This one succeeded largely because the writers clearly love the books and also love theater. Sorry I couldn't get Arnie in his Platypus costume.

Howard Lieberman, after Death Camp Diaries Howard Lieberman, after"Death Camp Diaries"

Howard ends the powerful show in the dehumanizing outfit all death camp inmates wore. Note small figure of a golem on the table.


Death Camp Diaries *****

A personal journey

A self-described "devoutly agnostic secular Jew" discovers he's a member of the tribe whether he wants to be or not. He goes to places in Europe made infamous by the Nazi death camps to see for himself just how people could do that to each other. He has no answers, and has only slightly better questions. This show is not for everyone; if you've already made up your mind, in either direction, stay away. Remembering the evil of the Nazis is relevant to the evil being perpetrated today, and if you care you will remember too.

This narrative is beyond ratings. I want to give it neither a zero nor a five, I just want it to be. For the sake of the Fringe website, I'm giving it five kitties, and feel I'm cheapening the experience. A Shockwave Radio Theater Review.

I often go out of my way to avoid Holocaust stories. I know about it; I lost relatives. But evil never quite goes away. "Remember" is important. One of the reasons I still consider myself Jewish is the Passover seder. We are charged that if injustice happens anywhere in the world, we personally are responsible to rectify the situation. No, we don't have to drop our lives and rush to Africa or Iran, but we as Jews do have an obligation to care and to help where we can... and remember. Too many goyim just don't get it.

Howard said, over and over, that he doesn't know what it means to be a Jew. I can only advise on one small part of it: To be a Jew is to be The People of the Book. We have a sense of history; a sense that to understand the present and to amble into the future, we must understand the past. Stressing the importance of a living history is not unique to Judaism, but is our charge from our creator.

So: Thanks, Howard, for being a good Jew.

Okay, how do you follow that? I nearly skipped the next show, but decided that some comedic randomness would be a good counterpoint to deliberate evil. And it was.


Comedy, Go! ***

"Allow me to remain an enigma to you"

I saw this right after "Death Camp Diaries", and it made me laugh anyway. Improv is always a bit uneven but Ferris McSpeedy and a female guest star [Lauren Anderson] did pretty well. They took one suggestion from the audience and then rattled on for fifty minutes, nonstop. Three and a half kitties, rounded up for never letting it sag for long. A Shockwave Radio Theater Review.

Next, a quick dash to the Mixed Blood. On the way, I kept meeting people and being too rushed to say more than a quick hello.

Band outside the Rarig, 8/5/09 Band outside the Rarig, 8/5/09

I forget which show they're in, but they promote their Fringe gig by playing outside the U of M theaters. Percussion is handled by banging on his silvery leggings.


Like A Virgin *****

A more effective bee

Jimmy Hogg is as frenetic as Craig Ferguson: bouncing around the stage, talking to imaginary people, interacting with the audience, swiping at moths. It seems his younger self didn't know quite how to deal with girls, and he revels in embarrassing stories. Judging by the high pitch of the giggles, the women found it funnier than the men. And we found it pretty funny. Four and a half stars rounded up for filling the hour at a 10 o'clock show. A Shockwave Radio Theater Review.

Thence home. A good Fringe night, but despite three five star shows and one gigglesome four, I wasn't buoyed. Maybe it was the day's activities affecting the night's. Maybe it was needing to steel myself for the death camps that set my emotional distance. Maybe I'm getting burnt out. I've now seen 27 Fringe shows in 7 days. I've got tonight's schedule set, but really haven't decided on Friday's final lineup. Anyway:

Thursday 8/6
Rumspringa (Augsberg Studio, 5:30)
Comedy of Errors (Bedlam Parking lot, 7:00)
Squawk! (Gremlin , 8:30)

Plan is to park at the Bedlam, have dinner somewhere nearby. Go to the show at the Augsberg, jaunt down to see the show in the parking lot where my car is, hop in the car and dash to St. Paul.

It's possible, but not probable, that I'll stay for the next show at the Gremlin, but I need an early night.

Continued from Day 6: A cracked day and continuing on to Day 8, Running around.
Tags: fringe festival
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