By the fourth day, reviews and word of mouth have drawn crowds to popular shows and warned away others. We were still picking from the showcases and descriptions. So fringes 13-17 had been selected on Friday. Still, a remarkably successful day: When the worst show you go to is a Scrimshaw production, you've done well.
|John Skelly, "Jurassic Dork", Fringe-For-All #1, 7/13/09
The preview was without toys or props.
Jurassic Dork *****
"It's all a flea circus"
John Skelly recreates all the characters, all the dinosaurs and all the special effects from the movie based on the book. The first half of the show is little more than a recitation of the best lines and reminders of the best scenes: Lots of fun but just quoting. Then he takes a break, listens to his iPod, gets a pep talk from a professional actor, and really turns up the heat. Four and a half stars rounded up for a strong finish. A Shockwave Radio Theater Review.
I thought the previews at the Showcase was only okay, so didn't have this as a priority. Johanna liked it better, and added it to our day at the Southern, picking the first slot with an empty slot afterward. This turned out to be a good idea all around. Jurassic Dork itself was great. I was enjoying the first part, comparing it poorly with Parry Hotter as it was just mugging characters to regurgitate lines, with a few fun props. Then he kicks it up a notch in the second half, getting more into all the characters, having all sorts of fun being dinosaurs, playing with the props and making snarky comments on the way. He's got two shows left, and both will be packed.
|Sara and Joseph Scrimshaw, "Mansion of Dust", Southern Theatre, 8/2/09
Before their show, in the lobby.
Mansion of Dust **
Good opening, poor follow through
The first few minutes are fun, as two dusters with outrageous accents challenge each other and then duel with dusters and mops. But the rest of the show doesn't go anywhere. I expect a lot from a Scrimshaw show, and this didn't deliver, alas. A Shockwave Radio Theater Review.
Sara is a very good dancer and Joseph is a very good physical comedian. There were laughs to be milked, but they didn't deliver on the promise of the beginning. This is one of the reasons I don't rely on the showcases: a poor play can be great for three minutes, whereas a great play might take a while to build. The showcases are a good idea and worth doing, but its a bit of a crapshoot.
casebolt and smith ***
Too many pauses
Three great pas de deux, all of which expand the vocabulary of dance, in a clunky presentation. The dancing is superb, and I'd normally round this up to four stars, but missed cues and long waits in the dark took their toll. A Shockwave Radio Theater Review.
Taken just as a dance piece, the show was marvelous. I try to avoid judging a show based on missed lighting cues, and indeed I think mine is the lowest rating in all the reviews. Oh well. This was their second show, you'd think they had worked out some of the kinks. Nonetheless, if you're into dance, this is a great show.
|"Best Little Crackhouse in Philly", Fringe-For-All #1 7/13/09
You can't always tell a great deal from a three minute preview, but their excerpt at FFA#1 is what put them higher on my priority list.
The Best Little Crackhouse In Philly *****
My favorite show at the Fringe (so far)
Okay, I can well understand why some don't like this show: It's offensive, perverted and disgusting, showing the downside of laissez faire capitalism. But the grime and the crime are all used to great effect. The marvelous singing and dancing are a bouncy counterpoint to the wretchedness of their lives. The plot spares no one. Heck, the necrophiliac is the closest thing to a hero. And the ending is just perfect. I was deeply affected. Some rough edges don't take away much: Out of 17 fringes I've seen so far, this is the only true Five Kitty show. A Shockwave Radio Theater Review.
I'm not sure why I liked this so much. The actors were certainly into their roles, and were believable as singing crack whores. Not that I have a lot of experience with non-singing crack whores. The story and the music are outstanding. The drug sequence is evokes the right mental state. But what really got my eyes all teary was the ending. A perfect coda to a piece that ripped out your heart.
The first show we saw, The man who turned into a dog, was very poor but they insisted that the difficulty American audiences have is good, a "challenge" to the audience. No, "boredom" is not a "challenge". A "challenge" is getting you to sit still for an hour of perversion, drug use and death to drive home the theme.
The show was well attended but didn't play to a packed house. They have one more performance left. No, this isn't for everyone, but few Fringe shows have reached in this direction.
Holding Patterns ****
Fluidity of motion
I didn't understand much of what the dancing was trying to say, but even the parts I didn't get were gorgeous. The more obvious (to me) messages were well constructed. The two main dancers from Milwaukee were joined by a third local dancer, and all were graceful and fluid in movement. A Shockwave Radio Theater Review.
Seventeen shows in four days, many of them great. I can relax a little, and prevent burnout by picking 3-4 shows in nearby venues. It's getting harder to pick follow the highest rated shows without a lot of rushing across town, so some will fall by the wayside.
On tap for tonight:
Animal Cracker Genocide (Augsberg Mainstage, 7:00)
Livelihood (Rarig Thrust, 8:30)
Pipa (Rarig XPerimantal, 10:00)
Continued from Day 3: A Solid B+ and continuing on to Day 5: An easy day.