I've now seen 18 Fringes, counting dress rehearsals that I did videos for, and I've only missed one time-slot. Oh. Oh.
Sunday 8/7 worked out very well. I hit several of the shows I really wanted to see, and they didn't disappoint. The Fringe web site doesn't allow half-stars (which they call "kitties"), but I make a finer gradation here. All the shows today were between 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 stars.
Two Wheeled Words
The bicycle fad at the end of the 19th century was a major step for the development of the assembly line, for the rise of advertising and for women's liberation. Evalyn Parry explores the world of the 1890s bicycle revolution in song and narration. She's helped by Brad Hart, her spokesperson (as in, "person who plays the spokes"). Very enjoyable cultural history of an era that history slides over.
The title card, projected in the beginning, went from "Two Wheeled Words" to "To Wield Words" so I knew I was in capable hands. I was expecting a bit more about the bicycle itself. What we got was pretty good: Some longer stories and songs about individual women cyclists. I picked up one of her CDs, not about this show, which I'll listen to later.
xxxxx four and a half stars, rounded up for bravery
A Phenomena Of Hydraulics
Tim Mooney always does a good show, and this one is very personal. The performance is largely autobiographical; part comedy, part catharsis. I can relate. And yes, there is nude dancing.
This is Tim stretching his performing muscles (no double entendre implied). The material comes from examining his life, and he's remarkably brave to put it all out there. Tim has the comedic chops to pull it off (no double entendre implied), let you know him better AND cast light on your own experience.
A Girl Made From Flowers
Like Mythed, the Fringe show from 2006, Bloddeuwedd is based on a Welsh legend. Erin Daly is intense as the woman made from flowers who doesn't like her situation. How she copes, and why, make for a compelling hour.
Not too long ago, the show would have harped on the woman freeing herself from men. Here, the tragic story is told from her pov without political commentary, and it works splendidly. That's two shows in a row about sexual awakening; three if you count the bicycles' impact on culture.
I had left the next slot open, to allow for travel time and to get something to eat. Yet going from the Ritz to the Rarig (parking on Riverside), allowed us to stop at the Jimmy John's and realize that we could make the next show. Quickly pulling out the schedule, two shows were high on my list. Since the theaters were already letting people in, I opted for the show in the larger venue. We got nice seats in the Rarig Thrust.
Wisdom: Part I
Why we believe
Jimmy Hogg in a suit was enough to tell me this show isn't his usual outcast humor. Wisdom sort of meanders through a lot of fairly intelligent stand-up without making anyone the wiser. Still, Hogg shows his comedic chops and I was chuckling throughout. His least fringy show is full of rapid-fire jokes and a passel of energy.
Some usually trustworthy reviewers thought this was awful. While it certainly wasn't the thrown-in-jail personal memoirs of the past, Hogg did a very credible commercial stand-up. This is a good thing, especially for Hogg's career.
ROBO-homa! A Territory Tale with a Technological Twist
xxxx three and a half stars, rounded up for a satisfying resolution
Music Is Protocol
As science fiction, the concept is a bit iffy. As a fun spoof of Oklahoma involving post-apocalyptic robots and the dregs of humanity, it works fairly well. The music is not from the Broadway show, which gets in the way only a little. Rounded up to four stars for a decent conclusion to a silly concept.
As opposed to Jimmy Hogg's show, which I liked more than most, I didn't like this one as much as some, including dreamshark. Maybe I'm just too jaded about post-apocalypse stories. This was somewhere between Westworld, The Road and a bad version of Oklahoma. Some of it worked, much might have work better in somewhat different staging. It was a lot of work trying to match the show to its parody; maybe people were invested in the effort. Oh well.
xxxxx four and a half stars, rounded up
Amy Salloway's hemi-demi-semi-autobiographical tales are at once touching and hysterical. Here, she is joined by Jim Schweitzer, playing a proper foil for Amy's angst. Much fun is made of Unitarian Universalists, twine balls, desperate relationships and the sad, lonely characters. Note: While presented in the Rarig Arena theater-in-the-round, the show is directional, so the theater is a bit smaller than the number of seats technically available.
Amy Salloway stretching her writing/acting style by presenting a one-woman show with two people. The guy was very good, but he mainly saved Amy's voice.
xxxx three and a half stars rounded up for audience involvement
Shakespeare's plays are violent and the body count is high. Kill Will doesn't actually do all the deaths in his plays (for example, Romeo and Juliet), but they do a lot of them. Often, with audience participation. As much improv as Shakespeare, the two physical comedians mug their way through many different genres to present the deaths. It's the kind of broad humor that, I suspect, Shakespeare would have appreciated. Three and a half stars, rounded up for a lot of audience involvement.
Perhaps its just Minnesota, or maybe I don't get out enough, but we get a lot of lowbrow humor on highbrow topics. I can generally live without this, but its hard to beat Shakespeare as a hook.
After a seven-fringe Saturday, we need a relaxing Sunday. Plan: Four shows at the Bryant-Lake Bowl, and one, "#ringtone", close by.
Continued on Day 4: A Solid Day In Unexpected Ways.