2011 Fringe Festival Day 2: Ready… THRUST!
Leftover from Day 1: The Fringe has changed their policy, and media people such as myself can't write reviews on the web site.
I think this is a mistake for two reasons: First, my actual media credentials are from my radio reports which are not reviews. The reviews are part of my continuing coverage, so I have press credentials, but what I do for the Fringe contains multitudes.
Second, and more important: Too many shows "game the system", and have their friends write glowing reviews. You can usually tell these by how early they appear, and by the fact that the reviewer will have only written one or two reviews for the whole Fringe. I think the Fringe needs to weight reviews by Trusted Reviewer, in much the same way they have Fringe Tracks recommendations before the Fringe. I've written as many or more reviews for their site than anyone, and other media people have gone to many Fringes over the years. I feel that the Fringe is doing a disservice to their community by not including trusted and knowledgeable reviewers.
I'm a little discouraged. But the Fringe is too much fun, so I'll just keep posting here and in other places. I'll alter my Minnesota Fringe Festival archive accordingly.
Freed from the constraints of the Fringe web site'd format, I'm just going to combine all comments in one.
When you see a lot of Fringe shows, you don't so much "go to the Fringe" as "choreograph your day". Carole and I did today really well: Four shows in the same venue, the Rarig Thrust. Since I seem to be coming down with a bit of a cold, I was very happy not to have to go in and out of buildings.
The Smothers Brothers Grimm
Too geeky for this geek
You'd think I'd be their target audience: A geek who loves bending old stories, someone who has seen entirely too much Laurel & Hardy, Smothers Brothers, Bob Newhart and The Princess Bride. But no.
Smothers Brothers Grimm was fun, and the music was good. But it wasn't clever. It kept feeling like an information dump more than an alternate retelling. Maybe I'm just being a curmudgeon, or maybe I've written too many of these types of things. Partly, they didn't get the comedians quite right.
On the other hand, much of it worked. The overall structure -- a kid being read bedtime stories on the evening before his grandfather's funeral -- is a good way to hang these stories.
So: Recommended, but you have to be in the right mood.
xxx 1/2 which I'll round up to xxxx even through I don't have to
Two Magicians… make that Three Magicians
The English folk song Two Magicians is about a Questioning Battle of transformation. Like False Knight on the Road or the battle in The Sword In The Stone, Brain Fighters is a series of battles of transformations. This time, it's using Brain Power, not magic.
And it's all done by three people in jump suits, with no costume changes or much in the way of scenery. Three very capable actors take on dozens of charade-mimicry in front of a witty script.
Recommended for all Joe Scrimshaw fans, and for those who want to be swept into a different world for a while.
Robot Lincoln: The Revengeance (The Musical)
xxx… no… xxxx… no… xxx 1/2... oh okay xxxx
Amateurish, brilliant, brave and fringy
Robot Lincoln is one of the best High School musicals about a post-apocalyptic battle for the heart and soul of America I've ever seen. Carole and I sat next to David R, who didn't like it as much as I did, and I can't really disagree with his assessment: "laden with flaws".
Still, the level of production was evident almost right away (hey, look at the title) and I set my sights at their level. The script is ambitious; overly ambitious perhaps, but I give huge credit for trying and mostly succeeding. These guys are brave and fearless.
The actors aren't quite up to the roles, but they try. The costumes are fun. The singing is often quite good, though not all of them project well. The Thrust stage is used well.
Robot Lincoln is the most fringy show of the seven so far. It's difficult to imaging seeing the show anywhere else but at the Fringe. Once I had set my expectations to the amateurish level, I had a great time.
So I'm going to stick with the four kitty rating, but can't give it a high recommendation. Unless you like silly High School musicals. Which I do, sometimes.
Macbeth: The Video Game Remix
Okay, Macbeth: tVGR was funnier than it had any right to be. Most of the jokes come at the expense of virtual role playing games; not really one of my online activities but I laughed anyway. The Macbeth jokes got different laughs than the gaming laughs; clearly, both audiences were served.
Unlike The Smothers Brothers Grimm geekery, M: tVGR was clever and superbly acted.
A good end to the evening.
Plans for today are likely to change. I'm still feeling less than 100% and Carole had a very full day on Friday and needs to catch up. I had scheduled five slots (out of seven possible) and we may pare that down to four or even three.
Continued in Day 3: Unexpected pleasures, old friends stumble.