Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Hidden Gems (fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth in a series)
[a handful of shows that might not be on your radar, but should be...]

Let's face it, folks. We all know I could be waxing on and off about this Fringe from now until Fringe 2005 but opening night is nearly upon us, so it's time to start speedwalking through these puppies...(which, for me, probably still means some rambling, but I'll try and contain myself and just hit the high points)

Funeral Director's Wife
Illusion Theatre
Kathy Douglass had a great little show with four of Ruth Draper's monologues in last year's Fringe that I quite liked. This year it's a monologue of her own, written in conjunction with director Beth Gilleland - a semiautobiographical tale of...well, being a funeral director's wife. If you're lucky, you'll catch site of a cute little publicity gimmick around town, their show info and headstone logo on little packages of Kleenex. Beth and Kathy are very fine talents and no doubt combine to make a fine show.

Alan Berks
Pillsbury House Theatre
A recent Jerome Fellow in playwrighting, Alan is a good-looking (don't look just at the publicity photo, look at the photos of him in the Balls 7/31 Cabaret slideshow on the Fringe site's front page), talented writer who can perform his own scripts - so naturally I hate him (humor is hard to convey in typeface, but I *am* kidding), and I also can't take my eyes off him (there I'm not kidding). A friend who's opinion I trust saw the preview of this show at Balls and says it's high-quality stuff, well worth your time. Yet another one person show that's worth seeking out. "Politics and goatherding. Mysticism, cheesemaking and faith. A solo journey through Israel after the Rabin assasination."

Lives of the Most Notorious Highwaymen
Walking Shadow
Minneapolis Theatre Garage
This is the second Fringe show from the team of director/producer Amy Rummenie and playwright/actor John Carl Heimbuch who gave us 2001's "Edward Gorey's Helpless Doorknobs," which was very well-received. (John says, "I still have the clippings, and the script, and the majority of the set.") While I didn't get to see that (Gorey fan that I am), I did see John on stage in last year's Fringe, when he was the best thing in a production of Spring Awakening. If he's as good a writer as he is an actor (and I have a hunch he is), then this show should be a lot of fun. Meticulously researched, and yet I sense a rollicking yarn with a whiff of Masterpiece Theatre about it. After all, even their bios are, literally, Dickensian. In the same vein as last year's James Berry The Reluctant Hangman, which I liked quite a lot. Seek them out, but, given the subject matter, watch your wallet.

Sonata Blue
Lost In The Cove Productions
CalibanCo Theatre
Would you believe I've been sucked into this one almost solely by virtue of its publicity image? (part of me can't, but look at it) It keeps drawing me back - probably because, for me (though Matt Foster may think this a sacrilege) it evokes Krzysztof Kieslwoski's film "Blue" from the Three Colors trilogy (a set of movies and a director I pretty damn near worship). The description (two women of very different faith backgrounds battle over the fates of a man and a young girl they both love, left incapicated and vulnerable by a near-fatal car accident) intrigues me. A world premiere at the Fringe is always nice. Their website isn't working at the moment but also looks pretty. And as if one show in the Fringe weren't enough, someone else is doing this writer's Brave Little Tailor for the "you must be at least this tall to get on this ride" set.

Spoonface Steinberg
Rough Magic Performance Company
Woman's Club of Minneapolis
Caught my eye because it was written by Lee Hall, the screenwriter for the film "Billy Elliot." And the embarrassment of riches build from there - American premiere, award-winning British play, and the director is Heidi Hunter Batz of Pillsbury House, whose work I admire very much. All good ingredients for a lovely stew of a one-woman Fringe show. Don't know the actress but her bio is impressive, and includes past one-woman Fringe show work, so she obviously knows the paces.

For other Hidden Gems, look at
Mary Skelley Sunshine Box
This Love Train Is Unstoppable and I Am the Conductor

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

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