Saturday, August 07, 2004

Fringe Day 1, Part 2 - Friday, August 6, 2004, 5:30pm

Terra Incognita
Women's Club of Minneapolis

- tonight, Saturday, August 7th at 10pm
(due to scheduling difficulties, they were only able to join us for the opening of the festival, so let's give them a proper Minnesota welcome and send off)

Mom says, "Interesting use of paint"

Another woman in the audience, while waiting for the show to begin, said to another chatty Fringer, "I came to this one because it sounded fascinating."

Indeed it does. If you want a longer explanation of it all, see my previous write-up.

The performance itself was quite intriguing. Characters using rhythm, song, and yes, paint, as well as words - both poetic and profane - to express themselves.

The upshot of the piece has to do with that old conundrum "what exactly does it mean to be sane or insane, what exactly is reality, and are the inmates really running the asylum?"

One can clearly tell a poet wrote this, and one can understand why she's been published. The fluid, evocative way the author bends language to her will is one of the chief strengths of this production. The cast embraces this language with gusto and presents it in beautiful, yet recognizably human, form. This isn't like some Fringe shows I've seen in the past that sounded pretty, and probably read like a dream on the page, but weren't at all inherently dramatic, and thus were hard to sit through and stay awake, even for only an hour.

The staging and acting in the production, and the fact that the language doesn't prevent the characters from interacting but actually is their common, and ever stronger, bond as the script progresses, make it a very theatrical presentation.

The view of male/female relations often bordered on Theatre of the Evil Penis (woman good/man bad), which I've written about before, but the script had such lovely language, and that element of theme wasn't too strident, so I'm going to let it slide. It's certainly not a reason to stay away. Men are welcome in this world.

The only quibble I can level is that the sock puppet (it's a *long* story) has a voice distortion sound effect for its lines that often made it hard to understand what it was saying. Since it was a puppet and not a human mouth, watching the lips move didn't provide any further clues. This could also be a function of the space in which they were performing. The Woman's Club is very much a high school auditorium style performance space, and so acoustics may not have been hospitable to a sound effect that might work elsewhere. It's just that I know, particularly in the longer speeches, the puppet was saying important things (I can't believe I just typed that), and I would have liked to have understood fully what they were.

Way too much space on a tiny issue. The cast, script and overall production are well worth catching up with, and puzzling over afterward, during their last performance this evening at 10pm.

This is the kind of show that sticks in your head and has you mulling it over for the remainder of the Fringe. It's worth catching while you still can.

(For more of my writing - plays, past blog entries and more - visit

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