2011 Fringe Festival Day 9: Resetting the baseline
Carole was off at work, so I went to the first two slots on my own. This changed the dynamics slightly, though not much. First up, a change, switching to a show that everyone told me I'd like. They were wrong.
Awful, just awful. Mapping Star Wars to Hamlet just doesn't work. You wind up with the wise Yoda as the well-meaning but vacuous Polonious. Sister Leia as mad Ophelia. Claudius murdering… hmm… never did figure that one out.
The acting was muddled; half the time I couldn't hear the lines. When I could hear, the familiar Star Wars lines (from all the initial three movies) just didn't tuck in.
I give them credit for trying, and the costumes were fun. But that's an entire star by itself.
Tempests, Disney Dethroned and The Smothers Brothers Grimm didn't work for me either, but all three got rave reviews. I wondered just where all the recommendations came from. Are Fringers so starved for parody that merely dropping famous lines or dropping names excited them? Or was it me? How jaded have I become?
To be sure, Hamluke was treading on Shockwave Radio Theater's water. Way back when, Kara Dalkey wrote The Food Wars Saga. She played Lotta Oregano, I was Luke Cakewalker, Jerry Stearns was Ham Salad as we flew in the Marshmallow Falcon…
Oh okay, I'll link to them. These are Real Audio files:
Food Wars: A New Cook (21:52)
The Empire Bakes Off pt. 1 (27:34)
The Empire Bakes Off pt 2 (16:41)
I digitized Repast of the Jello for CD distribution, but haven't posted it online. I will if enough people demand the audio; remember my motto: I can be bribed.
But I digress.
To be sure, I don't consider it a Fringe until I see something I don't like, and Hamluke is my lowest rated show this year. Still. Feeling a little lost, I really needed a Level One Diagnostic. Somewhere in the whirl of the Fringe I had lost calibration, and really needed to reestablish a baseline. So…
Highlander: The Musical!
"Ignore the subtext"
Highlander had been on and off our schedule several times. I wanted to see it, but the cast is local and would likely restage the show at Convergence or someplace around here. But I needed to cleanse the palate from previous parodies that didn't work for me.
Silly, fun and tuneful. Tim Wick knows how to be meta without actually breaking the fourth wall. The movie Highlander is a lot of fun if you don't think too much, and they went out of their way not to. (If you do think on it too much, you'll wind up with sequels and a tv series that happens after ((almost)) everyone dies in the first movie.) Being familiar with the movie is a plus, but probably not necessary as the musical explains the major plot points… better than the movie.
Missing an actor due to family emergency, the rest of the cast nicely covered.
Yes, I needed that just then. Thanks.
Then a break to go pick up Carole for the last two shows.
Buckets and Tap Shoes
Rousing high-energy fun!
Buckets is another show that had been on and off our schedule several times. Finally, I was able to choreograph it in.
The show is more-or-less what I expected, mainly more. Everyone involved both dances and plays an instrument. And dances and plays really well. The audience gets involved, clapping and stomping.
Not really a lot to say about Buckets and Tap Shoes: It's great and you should see it, perhaps when it's remounted.
A Fool's Errand
"Live in this life"
Three people tell stories of incidents on their religious paths. It would be a fool's errand to assume only one path (says the lapsed Catholic). The three storytellers are great, and their stories touch on universal themes.
I promised Howard that I'd add some controversy: If I have any major criticism it's that they didn't put their heart on their sleeve. After the soul-baring trial of 2009's Death Camp Diaries, these stories seemed rather tame. Well told, but they didn't dig all that deep. Few laughs, which was fine, but few gasps, which worked less well. Their paths weren't altered by these events.
Both Carole and I enjoyed A Fool's Errand, though we both agreed that it could have gone either way and this show was enormously helped by coming after a rousing dance show.
Continued in Day 10: Batting cleanup, hitting 1.000.