The day promised rain, and delivered. Rain in the morning, downpour at night. Fortunately, I closed my windows before fringing. Then Carole and I went to The Red Dragon for dinner, as it's a block away from the Theatre Garage. I hadn't eaten there in maybe 30 years, and couldn't resist the opportunity to choreograph the day.
Uncle Shelby's Traveling Trunk
xxxx three and a half stars, rounded up
10 Poked Octopi
I hate to give this a firm rating, as the show changes every performance. They do 10 (or so) skits from a large pool. Some repeat but are different every time. All of the skits demand that you pay attention, and usually pay off at the end. Sharp writing is enhanced by facile acting. Some worked better than others, and I hope they can winnow down to the best ones for future shows.
We seemed to have an extra skit in the beginning, otherwise we saw the ten skits listed for the day. They were all good, of varying lengths and intensity. The humorous ones worked a bit better than the serious ones, but maybe that was just my frame of mind.
See You Next Tuesday
Unhappy On Our Own Terms
Usually, plays about dysfunctional relationships turn me off, but all the characters in See You Next Tuesday have redeeming qualities. The threads of two relationships intertwine and unravel in a masterful and funny script. The actors rise to the challenge. Special credit to David Pisa for rearranging a futon onstage in the dark.
One of the fringes I was most looking forward to, as Walking Shadow Theatre Company always does great stuff. Crowded but not sold out (I think), the audience was hanging on every word.
Grind: The Musical
xxxxx four and a half stars, rounded up for the music
Keep The Change
Grind is 3/4 brilliant and 1/4 raw. Several characters are presented and developed in and around a coffee shop with an open mic night. The staging is excellent but the script needs work. Four and a half rounded up to five kitties for the singing and wry comments on Minneapolis.
Some reviewers harped on the technical problems, of which there were several. That largely didn't bother me, as the production was raw enough that I let a lot of the smaller stuff slide. I gave them more credit for the amount of interesting plot than the cliche'd resolutions. Really nice harmonies, and they know how to build a set and use the Rarig Xperimental.
Trouble In Tahiti
Like last year's June of Arc, Trouble In Tahiti is set in post-WWII American suburbia and deals with a man wrapped up in making a buck and a woman trapped in a marriage in which she doesn't feel loved. The 45-minute show, written by Leonard Bernstein in 1952, is an operetta, using jazz riffs with traditional opera phrasing, where almost all the dialog is sung. The singers are marvelous and the the cast makes good use of the Thrust stage. You may not see yourself in either of the characters, but you will understand them, at least a little. While I can't say that this is for everyone, it worked for me.
In addition to comparing favorably to June of Arc (which I didn't like), Trouble in Tahiti compared favorably to this years' That Sara Aziz in exploring women's issues in a Western culture. Different takes, of course. I couldn't find (because I didn't look very hard) how long the original 1952 staging was, so can't say how much they edited it for the Fringe.
Two legit five kitty shows, one four-and-a-half and one three-and-a-half. Then Trivia at the Bedlam afterward. According to the scorekeeper, the third place team had 34 points and we had 32. Tim Mooney got most of the Theatre questions, and I popped one or two about Mpls venues. A long, wet, successful day.
Continued at http://barondave.livejournal.com/268542.html">Day 7: So good we're getting jaded.