Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Fringe Snapshot, Day 5

So much good stuff to talk about here. First, a brief overview. More complete reviews to follow...

The Swimmer - 4-1/2 stars - This show is a tiny marvel. Small stage, no fancy tricks. Just a woman standing alone on stage with the occasional costume change. But it was compelling stuff. The overall story may be about surviving breast cancer, but it is the way in which Anne Dimock chooses to approach it - in stories about buying her daughter's first bra just days before her own first operation, an iconic dress and the personal milestones it came to mark, and likening her chemotherapy drugs to a seductive but dangerous Latin lover - that makes the story both accessible, truly memorable, and dare I say it, beautiful. Highly recommended.

U Betcha! eX-posed! - 3-1/2 stars - A clever group put this show together. The singing is actually quite good - something for which they enjoy being underestimated. The choreography is hilarious. Greta Grosh as the desperate TV host is a standout. The audience participation is fun (and not intimidating). Some of the rough edges were intentional, but I got a sense that some of them (particularly in technical areas) were not. Overall, a fun way to pass the time. A nice change of pace.

The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind - 5 stars - Wow. A story that goes from the personal to the universal and back again so many times it's almost dizzying (but in a very good way). Lots of laughs (just as many self-deprecating as directed at outer forces) - including delightful supporting roles filled by St. Claire and the Devil Duckie. A highly inventive and fluid use of cameras, projection and drawing/animation. One goes from a neary bare stage with a few gizmos and a ladder, to vanishing into the wide night sky at the end. This one needs the full review to convey all its many entertaining virtues. Trust me when I say, the title may be long and intimidating, but the show is neither. This is the kind of show I go to the Fringe to see. Highly recommended.

Patrick and James: A Love Story - 4-1/2 stars - I was ready to cut this show some slack - but it doesn't need any help from me at all. It's a great script, with winning performances by all involved. Full of quotable, funny dialogue, as well as emotion so sincere and believable it nearly stops your breath. This could have tipped over into maudlin or cliche so easily, but always handily avoided both. You'll be rooting for this couple, and their sidekicks, to find happiness. All I was hoping for and more. Highly recommended.

Now I'm going to try and elaborate on all of that.

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