Baron Dave Romm (barondave) wrote,
Baron Dave Romm

2009 Minnesota Fringe -- Day 9: Gambols lost and won

Friday was the hardest day to schedule. There were plenty of shows I wanted to see, but no two of them were back to back in the same (or nearby) venue. I spent days working and reworking Friday. I moved some shows to Saturday, which helped, but still left large holes. Finally, I decided that the priority was the Noah Bremer show at 10:00, which pretty much kept me on the West Bank all day. I gambled a bit and scheduled three shows at the Augsberg. All three looked interesting for completely different reasons. They were, indeed, interesting for different reasons and I didn't regret any of them, but none were great.

Still, a day of slow movement was set.

Sarah Broude and Kevin McLaughlin of Your Lithopedion Sarah Broude and Kevin McLaughlin of Your Lithopedion

The two principle actors in "Your Lithopedion", after the show in the Augsberg Studio, 8/7/09

Your Lithopedian ***

"I love 80s rock"

Ann Landers said something like, "relationships are made in heaven when the rocks in his head match the holes in her head." In this case, the rocks are really rocks, and the calcified baby that is the title character (look it up) is a serial killer and his wife is alternately a harpy and an enabler. Some clever bits of stagecraft and good acting don't really help the script, which is interesting but doesn't go anywhere. In many respects, this is the counterpoint to the Fringe show June of Arc, but that's a different discussion. A Shockwave Radio Theater Review.

Most people liked June of Arc better than I did. So be it. I thought the examination of a woman coming apart was lacking, rehashing old ground and not very well. In Your Lithopedion, we see a couple coming apart. The Lithopedion is a confessed serial killer, but the wife just refuses to accept it. Serial killers are not my favorite subject, so any play about them better rise above the material pretty quickly, and this one doesn't. A good show, well acted (though neither actor was June Cleaver good) but not a great show.

Citation Needed ***

Women to watch

Uneven but fun, proving once again that the Fringe is the recreation of vaudeville: A place young performers go to hone their craft. Mary Cait and Lisa invent some really clever skits (and a few so-so ones) around the concept of improvable Wikipedia factoids, all without any props. The two have much talent, and I hope they're around for next year. Three and a half kitties rounded down for a 35 minute show. A Shockwave Radio Theater Review.

Various people had recommended this to me, though I should have been suspicious because the web site reviews were much more positive than the live comments. The concept sounded interesting, and my word-of-mouth informants were right: Some good sketches.

Augsberg, Foss Center Augsberg, Foss Center

The Augsburg's two theaters in the Foss Center were new venues for the Fringe this year. The Mainstage line was on the left (entrance in the door on the far wall) and the Studio line on the right (entrance down the hall). 8/7/09

Seasons In The Sun ***

Love is a dish best served cold

I've never been a fan of Rod McKuen's poetry, but I've always liked his song lyrics, especially the translations of Jacque Brel. The show never mentions any names, but follows the journey of one lonely man who sings about and with his lost loves. Unfortunately, he doesn't quite have the chops necessary to carry the songs. Fortunately, she does. While much of the performance was affecting, they massacre "If You Go Away" and and don't quite understand that "Seasons In The Sun" is a solo paean. A Shockwave Radio Theater Review.

A moving show if you ignore the missed notes. I was annoyed at their interpretation of the Brel songs, though other reviewers seemed blown away. I think too many people were gaming the Fringe web site ratings. (As of Friday morning I was leading the pack with 30 reviews, tied with David Trudeau. At the moment, he's leading with 38 to my 35, but we're pretty close on almost all the shows both of us have seen, so I don't mind.)

And here I had a break. My plan was to see the three shows at the Augsburg, eat at the Jimmy John's on the way to the Rarig, and wander around doing interviews or just decompressing. Well, after three unchallenging shows, or perhaps just boring Rod McKuen poetry, I was feeling less burnt out than when I started the day. As I chomped on the sub, I realized that I could make a show in the unfilled slot. As long as the show wasn't sold out by the time I got there. But which one? I had done a lot of fretting about this slot, and knew more-or-less what would appeal to me. I gamboled over to the Rarig, and right inside the door was the ticket line for "Alice Unwrapped". I had been considering "Alice", for the subject matter and the length. I hopped on the short line and was in.

Alice Unwrapped ****

One woman aria

Alice is the 15-year-old child of a soldier MIA and a mother who's losing it. She's a rebel, wearing combat clothes despite the ostracizing in school and the admonishment of her 8-year-old sister. A one-woman show sung as much as spoken by Jill Anna Ponasik, accompanied on piano by Michael Pierce Donley, the performance is affecting and feels real. When she complains of helmet hair or her sister wails, "I want a normal family", the lot of our fighting forces comes home. Only 35 minutes long, it still deserves four kitties. A Shockwave Radio Theater Review.

The day suddenly improved. I saw a good show without adding to the stress of the Fringe. I was ready for Noah Bremer. As much as you can be ready for Noah Bremer. Pleasantly, the minnehahas had also designed their day around this show, and we hooked up.

Noah Bremer and Baron Dave Noah Bremer and Baron Dave

Noah Bremer of "Untitled Duet With Houseplant", started the show by interacting with the audience. "I haven't seen you in a long time!" he says, and leaps into the seat next to me. He takes a picture with his camera. I take one with mine. Rarig Proscenium, 8/7/09

Untitled Duet With Houseplant *****

Ignoring the fourth wall

Some performers break down the fourth wall. Noah Bremer just ignores it. Or goes under it. Or lets Tom Jones take a thwack. Or something. Untitled Duet is a masterwork by a Fringe favorite. Four and a half kitties rounded up for sheer inventiveness. A Shockwave Radio Theater Review.

Noah's a clown with perfect somatic sense. Every muscle on his body is under complete control. He's willing to spend time building up to a punchline, and it always pays off.

Well! What started as a fill-in day, more quantity than quality, worked out pretty well. Five fringes, all at least okay, ending with a really good one.

Today, Saturday, is another tricky day. Once again Johanna is free and we're scheduled to see:

The Morning After the Summer of Love (Intermedia, 1:00)
AfterLife (Intermedia, 2:30)
Was My Brother In Battle? Songs of War (Playwright Center, 4:00)
Bard Fiction (Rarig Thrust, 7:00)
Sideways from Wayside School (Rarig Thrust, 8:30)

All five of these are fairly high priorities, the first being the highest. The odd one out is at the Playwrights Center. The hop from Intermedia to the center shouldn't be too bad on a Saturday afternoon, but is definitely the one to skip if we're feeling rushed or burnt out. That gives us two slots in between, which is a long time.

And on Sunday
Where Egos Dare (Garage Theatre, 1:00)

Traditionally for me, the last Sunday is an easy day, filling in only as needed. I'm often feeling burnt out and want to deal with photos or just catch up on sleep and go to Trivia.

If I make these six, that will be 41 fringes, smashing last year's record of 39. Even if one falls off, I'm up to 40, and it's possible (though not probable) that we might slip in another on Sunday. We'll see, shall we?

Continued from Day 8: Running Around and continuing to Day 10: A spectacular finish,
Tags: fringe festival

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