Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Sax and Violins Revisited

Don't know whether it's because we're at war or there's a presidential election going on this year (or maybe it's more nervous handwringing because of Janet Jackson's boob) but there are about twice as many violence warnings in this year's Fringe compared to last year. Still, just like last year, not all of them seem frighteningly hardcore. Just a warning for the faint of heart. Which my heart appreciates...

Assassins - well, the title's a good clue. Having seen a production of this at the History Theatre many moons ago, I can say that it's probably the most enjoyable meditation on presidential assassins you're likely to see (there's quite a bit of humor, and no presidents were harmed in the making of this musical). An amusing choice for an election year. And not all of us can get to Broadway to see the Sondheim showcase there. I'll be going again, and probably bringing Mom.

Axis Mundi - The theatre company's name - Aggravated Assault - certainly isn't being coy either. There's also a bit of violence just in the publicity photograph, so this one's probably on the high end of the violence scale, though that's not necessarily a bad thing. Just a coupla' white guys sitting around beating the crap out of each other. As Marge said in The Talented Mr. Ripley, "Why is it when boys play, they always play at killing each other?" Still, all that said, the little devil on my shoulder is whispering in my ear saying this might be guilty pleasure territory.

Death Penalty Puppetry - OK, it's about the death penalty. But, c'mon, it's puppets. And since I quite literally laughed out loud the first time I saw their puppet mug shot, you'll probably be all right here. One of the many reasons it's in my top ten this year.

Donuts & Bow-Ties - there's a reference to "a sweet tale of terrorism and breakfast" and a gun in the publicity photo - so while there's a potential for nastiness (not to mention nudity and adult language), they seem good natured about it.

Fast Fringe #1: The Agony and Fast Fringe #2: The Ecstasy - Since I'm one of the producing Spanish ladies, I can vouch for these two. First, they're short plays, so they kind of have to get right to it and make their point. Second, what's a smattering of dark comedy without a little talk of death and brandishing of firearms. I can reassure you that only one gun is actually fired, offstage, and, if you're curious, yes, he hits his mark. Other than that, I reveal nothing. Unless you want to browse through some excerpts. There's a lot of comedy, not all of it violent by any means, so there's balance. And if you don't like a playlet in the showcase, hey, it's over in ten minutes and on to the next. We're hoping there's a little something for everyone.

In Defense of Sin (My Friends' Best Stories) - it's the Ministry of Cultural Warfare. Whatever it is, I know I'll be laughing. I trust them. That's why they're one of my Sure Things this year.

Jaws: The Musical! - whether there's a Land Shark involved or not, we can be pretty sure that this was no boating accident. The premise - people making a musical version of the film without actually having seen the film - tickles me. So I'm probably going, chum in the water or not.

Lokasenna - Wine! Women! And nanny goats! How bad could it be? I'm a sucker for ancient myths, and there seems to be a lot of humor, much of it bawdy, here, so again, I think we're safe.

Look Ma No Pants: The Last One - It's the Scrimshaw Brothers, people. They're parodying the shower scene from Psycho in their publicity photo. There was a fair amount of violence in last year's show and, rather than being traumatized by it, I was laughing my butt off. Don't let the violence scare you here. Go!

Plants & Animals - This is more from Scott Augustson, whose "Gilgamesh, Iowa" was a Fringe show last year I loved so much I could not shut up about it. Can't have mankind pitted against nature without breaking a few eggs. It's another of my Sure Things this year, so I'm there. And with luck, I'll get to buy the playwright another beer.

Prodigal - a celebrity actress confronting her estranged family in the suburbs at a birthday party - a recipe for violence if ever I heard one. This is from the same folks who brought you "A Regular Night At The Strip Club" last year, so they're no strangers to violence warnings.

Punk Rock Awesome - another play with music and assassins in it. These guys are a hoot. No qualms here, I trust them not to hurt me, only make me laugh - a lot. I highly recommend them. See you there.

RomAntic aGE - well, here's where my hormones trip me up. Of course, I could just say that, hey, they're from out of state, let's be polite and neighborly and go see their show. Or I could say that I'm fond of Blake's poetry and will brave a violence warning and the fact that the capitalized letters in the title spell "R-A-G-E." But, honestly, the thing that tips me over the edge into the "I'm probably going to go see them" category - the guys are cute. I'm sure heterosexuals are often subject to similar weaknesses. Just one more thing we have in common.

Searchingly Patient - between the warning for gunshots, the picture of a woman strangling a doctor with a stethescope, and the description of a battle of wills between a hypochondriac and her doctor, I'm a little worried - (*gulp*)

Tape - Ah, high school reunions - if you managed to survive high school, there's plenty of residual anger to fuel the violence later for old time's sake.

The 7 Project - Again, 7 Deadly Sins with no violence? Not possible.

The Devils - with a company called Medea's Children and a story of demonic possession in a nunnery, yeah, I'm expecting violence.

The Great Masturbators - Violent masturbation?! Oh, this is actually a show about Dali, Lorca and Bunuel - I can see where the violence comes from. But here's another candidate for "Save this show from its title!" Once I get past the title, I'm actually interested in the subject matter. Geez.

The Judas Cradle - when you're fighting for the future of the human race, things can get ugly. And that woman in the picture is looking at those little clay spacepeople figures in her hands a little too gleefully for my taste. However, my taste being mentioned, I like me some sci fi, and this one's going in my Top Ten, for reasons I'll get to shortly.

The Lives of the Most Notorious Highwaymen - Highway robbery can sometimes get messy. But this is another show in hands I trust, and I'll be writing it up as another Hidden Gem shortly.

The Lost Vegas Series (How not to get f***** in the City of Sin) - well, when your title mentions "how not to get f*****," chances are there will be a little self-defense, and offense, involved.

The Writings on the Bathroom Stall - after just seeing Gus Van Sant's "Elephant," I'm a little nervous about violence and high schools again, but since this is being written, produced, performed, you name it by a group of eager high school girls turned Fringe junkies, I'll just hope it's a major catfight.

So as with life, sometimes in art violence also has its uses. We have been warned. Still, don't let it scare you off. After all, keep saying to yourself, "It's just a play, it's just a play."

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