Monday, August 12, 2019

Fringe 2019 - Shows with 4.5 and 5 stars - Very Highly Recommended


5 STARS

A Cult Classic - Sheep Theater - Southern Theater

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe - A Cult Classic: Sheep Theater does it again; a pitch-black, dark comedy about an inept doomsday cult that can't seem to kill themselves (like they want to) when the time is upon them; doesn't sound funny, but it's hilarious - 5 stars



A Man’s Guide for Appropriate Behavior in the 21st Century - One T Productions (Scot Froelich) - Augsburg Studio

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: A Man’s Guide To Appropriate Behavior in the 21st Century: amazing panels of different speakers on different topics in each performance examining questions of white male privilege, in search of answers; compelling stuff - 5 stars



 A Tension To Detail - That's Enough Drama (Gerard Harris) - Ritz Theater Mainstage

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: A Tension To Detail: hilarious UK stand-up comedian @gerardharris spinning awkward, high velocity tales of his pre-comedy days (he asked for no spoilers :), much welcome and needed laughter - 5 stars




Adventures While Black in Great Britain - Les Kurkendaal Barrett - Rarig Thrust

Tweet Review - 2019 #MNFringe: Adventures While Black in Great Britain: Les Kurkendaal-Barrett has an uncanny ability to package the recent events of his life into irresistible storytelling, and he's at it again, on just 24 hours' notice (a story for another year) - 5 stars




All Is Bright - Shelby Company - Mixed Blood Theater

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: All Is Bright - @ShelbyCompany and playwright Dan Moyer return with a character study of three (seeming) losers finding themselves at a turning point during a drunken Santa pub crawl; gorgeous, funny and a little sad - 5 stars

2nd visit - 2019 #MNFringe: All Is Bright: return visit to this @ShelbyCompany play by Dan Moyer; script so rich in both jokes and character, I discover new things each time I see it; like spending time with a dear old friend; coming back Sunday, too - 5 stars

3rd visit - 2019 #MNFringe: All Is Bright: one last dance w/@ShelbyCompany before they head back to NYC; a 3rd visit to these characters, these actors and this play was a wonderful way to spend the middle of closing day; Dan Moyer’s a hell of a writer - 5 stars

Beowulf (John Heimbuch, Charlie Bethel) - Rarig Arena

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Beowulf: John Heimbuch channels the storytelling spirit of the late Charlie Bethel by presenting Bethel's one person adaptation of the legend; notions of the fragility of life take on greater weight in this context; still a rousing tale - 5 stars




Bo and Howie Are DTF (Defining Their Friendship) - Bo (Kinney) and Howie (Hamlin) Have a Theater Company - Strike Theater

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Bo and Howie are DTF (Defining Their Friendship) - best thing I saw all day; an unexpected delight; a madcap, scattershot assortment of meditations on a friendship on the cusp of major change; sneakily heartfelt among all the absurdity - 5 stars

2nd visit - 2019 #MNFringe: a return trip to see the final performance of Bo and Howie Are DTF (Defining Their Friendship): just as entertaining the second time, and just as moving; two friends actually saying goodbye, parting ways (for now) as this Fringe show ends (sigh)

Booth’s Ghost - Andrew Erskine Wheeler - Ritz Mainstage

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Booth’s Ghost: new (hell, ALL) actors and writers, take note; THIS is how you do it; how you create different characters with only one person, how you use and fill a space w/your voice and presence; how you tell a story - 5 stars
Botanical Dancing - LC Creations (Lily Conforti) - Southern Theater

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe - Botanical Dancing: what a fun, joyous little dance party that was; dancers conveying the love of what they do directly to the audience without saying a word, just moving (and painting) with their bodies, delightful - 5 stars




Fool Muun Komming! [BeBgWunderful/ YEsyes/ 4sure.Hi5. TruLuv; SpankSpank: SOfun_Grate_Times] - Sam Kruger - Mixed Blood Theater

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Fool Muun Komming - resists description, so it's kind of untweetable, but... remarkable physical work and engagement of the audience by a human performer pretending not to be human; dazzling, odd, unexpectedly sweet, very Fringey - 5 stars

Followup tweet Tuesday 8/6: 2019 #MNFringe: only two more chances to see Fool Muun Komming, and one of them's tonight Tues 8/6 at 8:30pm (the other is Sunday 8/11 at 2:30pm); catch him while you can, you shouldn't miss this oddball

2nd visit - 2019 #MNFringe: Fool Muun Komming: a return visit to our strange but charming alien visitor; when he asked for a dance partner at the end, I thought, “What the hell? It’s been a weird week” He’s very good at making you feel safe, I’m glad I volunteered - 5 stars

Frankenstein: Two Centuries - Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society (Shanan Custer, Joshua English Scrimshaw, Tim Uren, Eric Webster, Joe Weismann) - Rarig Thrust

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Frankenstein: Two Centuries, the folks at the Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society conjure two monster tales in two different styles, doing their own sound FX while you listen (and watch); old-fashioned fun for all - 5 stars



Game of Toms: One-Man Game of Thrones - Tom Reed - Rarig Thrust

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Game of Toms: One-Man Game of Thrones, finds @tbreed condensing 8 seasons of TV nudity and bloodshed down to 1 hour of hilarious songs, impressions, shirtlessness, and piles of bright red handkerchiefs; he sweats because he cares - 5 stars



Get Thee Behind Me Santa: An Inexcusably Filthy Children’s Time-Travel Farce for Adults Only - Maximum Verbosity (phillip andrew bennett low) - Rarig Xperimental

Tweet review - 2019 #mnfringe: Get Thee Behind Me, Santa: just as blasphemous, obscene and hilarious as it warns you it’s gonna be; PABL is just as smart and crazy a storyteller as he’s ever been; just the laughs and mind-bending I needed - 5 stars


Kind of Funny but Also a Little Sad - The Importance Of Being Fotis (Rita Boersma, Mike Fotis, Heather Meyer) - TRP

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Kind of Funny But Also a Little Sad: couldn’t have put myself in better hands for the final show for this Fringe than Rita Boersma, Mike Fotis, and Heather Meyer; laughing in the face of the absurdity of life and the oncoming train of mortality - 5 stars
Mad As Nell: or How To Lose a Bly in Ten Days - Rinky Dink Productions (Josh Carson) - Rarig Thrust

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Mad As Nell, or How To Lose a Bly In Ten Days - God bless @JoshDCarson and his many madcap compatriots; I needed some laughs that also fully engaged my brain at the end of a long Monday, and as usual, they provide - 5 stars



 Manic Impressive - Tristan Miller - Ritz Studio

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: to be brief, @TristanJMiller1’s stand-up show Manic Impressive was... both :) An entertaining, informative and quite circuitous tour through a brain that can make his life challenging sometimes - 5 stars





Operation: Immigration - Wandering Jew Productions (Avi Aharoni) - Mixed Blood Theater

Tweet review - 2019 #mnfringe: Operation: Immigration - celebration by a son of his late father; story of 3 countries, 3 cultures, 3 families; fascinating personal work from a ridiculously charismatic actor - 5 stars




Queer Circus - Silver Slipper Productions - Rarig Arena

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Queer Circus: I was honestly a little worried I might not be queer enough for this circus, but fear not, they welcome everyone; be prepared for a lot of flesh, but also a lot of fun; it’s a big show in a Fringe-sized package - 5 stars




Quiet Riot - Broken Box Mime Theater - Augsburg Mainstage

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Quiet Riot - @BrokenBoxMime serves up a few of their greatest silent hits from the origins of the universe to the first meeting that led to a wedding to kids' adventures in and out of a role playing game (and more); clever and fun - 5 stars




Reclaiming My Time - Jezebel Theater Company (Callie Meiners) - Crane Theater

Tweet review - 2019 #mnfringe: Reclaiming My Time: compelling personal stories of people finding their voice, in work, relationships, family, medicine and more; powerfully acted, uplifting theater - 5 stars





Relic - Jesse Factor - Crane Theater

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Relic - dancer Jesse Factor channels Joan Crawford so precisely and completely, I actually forgot it was a male body dancing onstage; mesmerizing; some of the best dance at the Fringe this year - 5 stars





Size - Sommerville Productions - Theatre in the Round Players

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe - Size: a compelling, moving, frequently laugh out loud celebration of human beings of all shapes and sizes; just as much a barn-burner as last year's Not Fair My Lady. Mom would've loved this one (sigh) - 5 stars




SplitScreen - Sterling Melcher and Meg Kirchhoff - Crane Theater
Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: SplitScreen: absolutions charming dance duo, one in MSP, one in PHL, connected by computers, video and internet, collaborating with audiences to explore and reshuffle a whimsical dance piece - 5 stars






Stoopidity - Ian McCarthy, Michael McKitt, Domino D'Lorion - Rarig Xperimental

Tweet review - 2019 #mnfringe - Stoopidity: best thing I saw Thurs.; mix of scenes, spoken word, movement, rap, w/drag show thrown in at the end, great performances to match material; hard to summarize, important to see - 5 stars





Which Middle Name of ‘Philip Seymour Hoffman’ Are You? - alleged Theatre Company - Ritz Studio

Tweet review - 2019 MNFringe: Which Middle Name of Philip Seymour Hoffman Are You? - such a fun, odd, razor-sharp bit of satirical comedy writing, breathless performance, and audience interaction; just wonderfully absurd - 5 stars


 
Write Me A Song - The Salvage Project (Jeromy Darling) - Augsburg Studio
(I saw this twice the last time it was here)

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe - Write Me A Song: just a tiny little miracle of creation in every performance; audience collaborates with singer-songwriter to create a brand new song in less than an hour; fascinating and fun (3rd time seeing it, woud go again) - 5 stars

Tweet re-review - 2019 #MNFringe: Write Me A Song (yeah, I already saw it, I went back again 8/8); this time Jeromy's friend Curt and his keyboard were subbing in, so I got a new experience in the same format after all; a welcome break from the swirl of everything else - still, 5 stars

Xena and Gabrielle Smash the Patriarchy - Mermaid Productions - TRP

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Xena and Gabrielle Smash the Patriarchy: nothing wrong with fan service, especially when it has good points to make, and is so damn smart and entertaining doing so; not even guilty, just a pleasure - 5 stars




You Are Cordially Invited to the Life and Death of Edward Lear - The Winding Sheet Outfit - Crane Theater

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: You Are Cordially Invited to the Life and Death of Edward Lear: what a gift this show was; a delicate balance of whimsical and melancholy; a meditation on the fleeting nature of life and theater, what we leave behind and who tells that story; wow - 5 stars



4.5 STARS

Ancient Future Division: Battle for the Existence Yeti - 5th Wheel Productions - Southern Theater
(2019 Fringe Top 20, #15 - reasons why)

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Ancient Future Division: Battle for the Existence Yeti - a beguiling and odd twist on sci fi tropes that was even funnier (and better) than I expected; some rough edges but still a cut way above most other spoofs; solid work - 4.5 stars



At Ladders, Inc. - Virginia Twins - Rarig Arena

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: at Ladders, Inc.: new dance/movement group Virginia Twins creates a whimsical office environment where ladders can be anything, and performers can do almost anything; curious to see what they tackle next - 4.5 stars


The Bisexual Unicorn and Other Mythological Creatures - Jena Young Productions - Theatre in the Round Players (TRP)

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: The Bisexual Unicorn and Other Mythological Creatures - circus tricks accompanying queer confessionals were a strangely good fit; sometimes one element stronger than the other but overall, an impressive showcase of humanity - 4.5 stars



Chorus - Michael Rogers - Rarig Thrust

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Chorus - it's so tricky using music in a non-musical theater piece; could overwhelm words, make them redundant, serve up sentiment you haven't earned; Michael Rogers and Co. come really close to getting it right (and I may have been watching it wrong) - 4.5 stars


A Confederate Widow In Hell - Breaker/Fixer Productions (Willi Carlisle, Joseph Fletcher) - Southern Theater

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe - A Confederate Widow In Hell: just like the title says (though a man in drag), along with her headless companion, take a tour of the sins of the South, not really buried that deeply; lot to think about here, but brilliantly executed - 4.5 stars



Moon River - Ducdame Theatre (Paige Quinlivan) - Ritz Studio


Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Moon River - charming teen lesbian couple caught up in alternate reality 1950s where the moon has disappeared from the sky; strong cast, unusual script that didn’t quite stick the landing for me, but still liked it a lot - 4.5 stars




Nerd Rage! The Great Debates - Wonder Dave and Komedio Comedy - Crane Theater

Tweet reveiw - 2019 #MNFringe: Nerd Rage! The Great Debates: Chewbacca vs. Mr. Spock for best sidekick; Oxford Comma, yes or no; Letterkenny vs. Willow (any of them); spirited debates of good will (some better informed than others); fun improv - 4.5 stars




War Stories - Human Beans - Augsburg Studio

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: War Stories: fascinating work in progress about young man and woman, both seduced by the same teacher, bonding and ultimately doing a full-on dance number together; wild study in opposites, cheerful and raging - 4.5 stars


For a quick list of links to my other postings, check out lists of 5 and 4.5 star shows, 4 star shows, 3 and 3.5 star shows, and shows with 2.5 stars or less; also my Top 10 and Top 11-20 new Fringe artists to check out for Fringe 2019.  There's also Returning Favorites, and Fringe Shows I Just Can't Watch Right Now, but You Probably Should.  If you want to keep me company, during my first Fringe without Mom, I'll be posting my schedule here.  Also, here's some links if you want to hit all the Fringe 2019 blog posts, or see the full Fringe Archive from years past (just keep scrolling down, or hit the different years in the archive listing for the full blog on the right side of the screen and zero in on July and August)



Fringe 2019 - Shows with 4 stars - Highly Recommended


4 STARS

Beat. - W.A.R. Theater - Crane Theater


Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Beat. - murder among the circle of friends at the heart of the Beat movement in literature, catchy premise; women playing male roles, intriguing convention; compelling ensemble work leading to... yet another gay panic killing (sigh) - 4 stars




Mighty Real - Marvel Ann Theatre - Augsburg Mainstage

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Mighty Real: a bunch of white gay guys from various decades swapping stories at closing time at a piano bar; kind of meanders but it’s a pleasant enough way to pass an hour - 4 stars





The Overview Effect - Octoberdandy Productions (Jen Scott, Eric Heiberg, Damian Johnson) - Strike Theater

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: The Overview Effect - not really about space, this time, but it’s improv comedy so they might leave the atmosphere at some point :) Randomly chosen astronaut quotes launched earthbound stories of transition - 4 stars



Plaid Tales - no way theatre (Melody DeRogatis, Ruby Carlson, Isaac Dean Quick)- Rarig Thrust

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Plaid Tales: I root hard for plays like this, where gay characters aren’t traumatized by just being gay, and manage a happy ending; solid cast; but the time jumps weren’t clear, exposition and repetition were a big problem; good start, just needs work - 4 stars



Sandcastles - Emma Wick - Ritz Studio

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Sandcastles: first-time solo storyteller Emma Wick acquits herself well with a charming funny tale of trying to make peace with life never quite measuring up to childhood plans - 4 stars





Swords and Sorcery: The Improvised Fantasy Campaign - The Bearded Company - Theatre In The Round Players (TRP)

Tweet review - 2019 #mnfringe: Swords and Sorcery: saw the final episode last time, this time I got to see how they started a story; success or failure improvised to the roll of a 20-sided die; good fun - 4 stars



Tess Jones, Space Archeologist - MDK Productions (Michael D. Krefting) - Rarig Arena

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Tess Jones, Space Archaeologist - enjoyable feminist spin on a radio show sci-fi adventure serial hero; some performances better than others, but SO great to have Laura Bidgood back on a Fringe stage again - 4 stars




Wilhemina and Theodore’s Exquisite Victorian Adventure - Fearless Comedy Productions - TRP

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Wilhelmina and Theodore’s Exquisite Victorian Adventure: this Bill and Ted steampunk spoof is super clever and riffs nicely off the plot; but the comic timing was off; would have been a lot funnier if the pace was brisker; still, good stuff - 4 stars






For a quick list of links to my other postings, check out lists of 5 and 4.5 star shows, 4 star shows, 3 and 3.5 star shows, and shows with 2.5 stars or less; also my Top 10 and Top 11-20 new Fringe artists to check out for Fringe 2019.  There's also Returning Favorites, and Fringe Shows I Just Can't Watch Right Now, but You Probably Should.  If you want to keep me company, during my first Fringe without Mom, I'll be posting my schedule here.  Also, here's some links if you want to hit all the Fringe 2019 blog posts, or see the full Fringe Archive from years past (just keep scrolling down, or hit the different years in the archive listing for the full blog on the right side of the screen and zero in on July and August)



Fringe 2019 - Shows with 3 or 3.5 Stars


3.5 STARS

Origin Story - The Dying Theatre (Alex Goebel) - Crane Theater

Tweet review: 2019 #MNFringe: Origin Story: skillfully executed at dizzying pace; story of homeless LGBTQ teens w/ superhero twist; hardworking cast could use a better script, less layers and quick changes, more character development - 3.5 stars




With and Without - Jill Moshman - Crane Theater

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: With and Without: not sure what the point of either the text or the video was in conjunction with the movement; didn’t seem to work together or add anything to each other; SplitScreen more successful w/this strategy - 3.5 stars




3 STARS - (none)




For a quick list of links to my other postings, check out lists of 5 and 4.5 star shows, 4 star shows, 3 and 3.5 star shows, and shows with 2.5 stars or less; also  my Top 10 and Top 11-20 new Fringe artists to check out for Fringe 2019.  There's also Returning Favorites, and Fringe Shows I Just Can't Watch Right Now, but You Probably Should.  If you want to keep me company, during my first Fringe without Mom, I'll be posting my schedule here.  Also, here's some links if you want to hit all the Fringe 2019 blog posts, or see the full Fringe Archive from years past (just keep scrolling down, or hit the different years in the archive listing for the full blog on the right side of the screen and zero in on July and August)



Fringe 2019 - Shows with 2.5 Stars or less


2.5 STARS

Stand Up Eight - Kingfisher Theatre Company (Heather Fones, Callista Wengel) - Theatre in the Round Players (TRP)

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Stand Up Eight - it's very clear what this collection of shorts *wants* to be, it just, unfortunately, isn't; a lack of specificity and detail in the writing kneecaps the actors so they can't really create relationships, w/audience or each other - 2.5 stars




First Comes Love - Stephanie M. Hipple - Theatre in the Round Players

Tweet review: 2019 #MNFringe - First Comes Love: oh boy, uh, I was rooting for this one but... despite a very well-intentioned cast, the script and staging on this one are a mess. If you didn't know going in it was about the Pulse Nightclub shooting, the play doesn't tell you - 2.5 stars





Carbon Man-Dating: A Climate Themed Gay Romantic Comedy - Community Power MN - Augsburg Studio

Tweet review - 2019 #MNFringe: Carbon Man-Dating: a Climate-Themed Gay Romantic Comedy: this is a situation where the artist has an important subject (or 2) and needs someone more skilled to deliver the message; but good on him for the attempt - 2.5 stars





2 STARS

Ploys for Ensemble Glitz and Crisis Actors - Toot - Southern Theater

Tweet review: 2019 #MNFringe - Ploys for Ensemble Glitz And Crisis Actors - yikes; sadly the biggest disappointment of my Fringe so far; expected to be engaged and challenged; instead I got a show where the audience wasn't really necessary, so, uh... why be there? misfire - 2 stars





For a quick list of links to my other postings, check out lists of 5 and 4.5 star shows, 4 star shows, 3 and 3.5 star shows, and shows with 2.5 stars or less; also my pre-Fringe Top 10 and Top 11-20 new Fringe artists to check out for Fringe 2019.  There's also Returning Favorites, and Fringe Shows I Just Can't Watch Right Now, but You Probably Should.  If you want to keep me company, during my first Fringe without Mom, I'll be posting my schedule here.  Also, here's some links if you want to hit all the Fringe 2019 blog posts, or see the full Fringe Archive from years past (just keep scrolling down, or hit the different years in the archive listing for the full blog on the right side of the screen and zero in on July and August)