Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A few more in the "Not My Thing" category

Room For Cream - Emily Schmidt Productions

"Grace, what's your spirit animal?  It tells about how you threaten when provoked."

How do you like your coffee? Generibou barista Grace prefers a shot of sugar-free romance, a half pump of 5am and no creepy customers. She's not always so lucky. Hey, economy - thanks a latte!

She's so good with the satire of a dead-end service industry job at a coffeehouse chain that it was painful to watch. In the same way the British version of The Office was so deeply painful to watch that I literally let it play on the TV at the other end of the apartment while I did things like cleaning, so I could hear it, but didn't have to sit still and allow it to assault me head-on. Funny? Yes. The last thing I'd willingly make myself sit through. Unfortunately also yes. But if day job comedy is your thing, you probably won't find a funnier one at the Fringe this year.

Behind The Big Top - Travnastic Travesties

"Your breath smells like whiskey and shame."

A funny yet tragic play about an aging clown in the circus struggling to manage both his crumbling life and his insane co-workers.

The name makes you think it might be about transvestites. But it's about clowns. Washed up, alcoholic, manic depressive clowns. Two schlubby clowns taunt a third pretty boy clown. There's some good lines here, but just like the zombies and day job comedy, clowns kind of freak me out. And clowns acting as if theirs is a dead-end profession, like any other day job, depresses me, too. I'm feeling it more than just letting the comedy roll off my back, so enjoyment here escapes me. Again, if day job comedy is your thing, the clowns put a twist on it.

Aesop's Musical Foibles - Laughter Supplement

"I asked you to call me Lightning Jack!"

Poor Aesop can hardly think straight! His mind is crowded with stories and hysterical characters. Accompanied by rock and roll music, Aesop's fables are shared with the world, with a few twists along the way.

Oh dear. The costume bits for the animals are cute. The concept is clever. The small army of young performers in tie-dye T-shirts emblazoned with the show's logo dove in with all the energy and enthusiasm they could muster. But they were relying on a microphone that was either dead, or which they didn't know how to operate, and thus failed to project their voices much at all in the big musical number. Some of them musically were also really flat. All this will doubtless get worked out in the rehearsals they have left. It'll probably turn into a nice little family show when they're done. But I'm not their audience.

Hans The Obscure - Mindless Mirth Productions

"It seems to me like there's an awful lot of doofuses wandering the countryside."

Three little-known tales by Hans Christian Andersen. Witty suitors! Undersea kingdoms! The love that dare not cluck its name! Delightful, devilish, decadent fun!

I like Mahmoud Hakima as a performer a whole lot, so his involvement here makes me inclined to like the show. Also a big Hans Christian Andersen fan. It'll probably make for another fine family show. It got a lot of laughs, particularly when stuffed animal horses were tossed at the actors when it was time to go horseback riding. Personally, though, this style of storytelling isn't my thing.

Sneak Thief - International League of Diamond Thieves

"There's no such thing as two weeks' notice when you're being fired."

Two diamond-hungry thieves plan to steal the big kahuna. Starring Tim Hellendrung (MN Middle Finger 2011, Speech 2010) and Brant Miller (Mortem Capiendum 2008, Traveling Musicians 2009, Bards 2007)

Nothing at all wrong here. Brant Miller, Tim Hellendrung, both extremely funny guys, and both extremely funny here. However, watching a guy get fired, no matter how funny, is still painful for me to watch. Like the "Room for Cream" coffeehouse day job satire earlier in the evening, well-executed comedy of the humiliations of daily life can be enormously entertaining. I'm personally just a little too close to going under myself these days to get much enjoyment out of it. These men deliver the funny, however, so if you're looking for a laugh, this is your duo.

Coach - Charlzik Theatre Company

"Why do we keep having this discussion?"

He wants to coach. She won't let him. A hard-working father of three boys works with a Harvard fry-brain drop-out at a power plant about to close. It's about finding your life's passion at any cost.

A man wants to coach football. His wife won't let him. Gee, did a guy write this? Yup. I have a hard time having patience with a set up like this because it's clearly just convenient for things the writer wants to say, rather than looking like it's based in something like reality or character development. I have even less patience when no one onstage outside of the wife can bother to speak up so I can hear what they're saying. Meet me halfway, people. The problem here is I'm siding with the woman over the schlubs she has to deal with and want it to be her play, but we're supposed to think she's the obstacle. Sigh. Nobody keeps you from doing what you want to do, unless you let them. Pass.

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