We needed a relaxing day, so I scheduled four shows at the nearby Bryant-Lake Bowl and a fifth at a Bring Your Own Venue that went over the allotted hour to end the day on. Interestingly, the show that I had thought would rate the highest turned out to be the least interesting, and two shows that didn't impress me in their preview turned out to be pretty good.
Skinny Dipping - Not Your Mama's One woman Show
A Actress, B Material
Shanna Shrum is superb as several characters ranging from a Liza Minnelli wannabe to a blonde valley girl with a new friend from Africa. All the skits are dialogs with unseen partners of varying backgrounds. Some of the situations work better than others, and part of the fun is watching her change costume (and hair color) on stage.
An Evening With Alan Jr. and Chastity Gambler
Breakfast Taco Humor
Dave Stagner, playing pedal steel guitar
Two not-very-bright Texans are in a love-hate relationship, which is mainly love. Somewhat to my surprise, I enjoyed the show. Comparing notes with people who saw the first performance illustrated how much ad libbing they do around music cues. Dave Stagner's live music is a plus.
Their bit at the Ootiefest didn't do anything for me, and I was hesitant to add this show, but the timing was right (see next) and I'm glad I did. I'm learning to downplay the showcases; they're not necessarily a good taste.
The Big For Oh
Stephen Wright on Valium
Brian Beatty and The GF
Brian Beatty has an ear for the epigram, and I looked forward to this show. But his extremely dry delivery didn't work on a hot day. I'm glad I went, and glad I have his book, but hope for a bit more energy next time.
This is the show I had designed the day around. Brian is great reading his one or two sentence observations and I was hoping he could sustain a full hour. The longer bits were okay… but I kept falling asleep. Not necessarily his fault; it was a looooong weekend. Still, my most anticipated show of the day turned out to garner only three stars.
Quake: A Closet Love Story
xxxx three and a half stars, rounded up
Songs Make It Work
The plot is slight but potent: Two people on the verge of getting a divorce are trapped in a metal closet by an earthquake. Their plight is mildly interesting, but what makes the show is the interruptions for earthquake facts and the gorgeous songs that come out of nowhere. Three and a half stars, rounded up for the vocal arrangements.
Not sure quite how to rate this one. The basic story was only okay, but almost everything else was pretty good. They should do a musical.
xxxx four and a half stars, rounded down for being 65 minutes
Reality Can't Be Ignored
Actors move in and around audience in the art gallery
Working around the audience in an art gallery, the performers deal with cell phones, reality tv and how Facebook connects old flames. On one hand, technology helps us hide, on the other hand, technology compresses time and space. Sharp acting and a tight (but free-form) script allow the performance to happen all around you. There is no fourth wall separating the audience; hardly any walls at all, except digital divides. Four and a half stars rounded down for being 65 minutes.
Fringy AND the storylines gel. Not for everyone, I suppose, but everyone in and around the performance seemed rapt and appreciative. The producer let me take non-flash pictures, so a whole slew of them are in my Facebook 2010 Fringe Gallery 2
Continued at Day 5: relaxed and fringy.