Monday, August 04, 2003

Fringe - Day 3 - Part 1

Gilgamesh, Iowa
Bryant Lake Bowl

I couldn't talk to enough people about how good this show is. Hopefully, I've steered a few of my friends in its direction because if they miss it, they're really missing something beautiful.

When I first read the litany of bizarre things supposedly contained in this play, I thought, "How the heck can all that really be in one play, and still be coherent?" Here's how - the laundry list of oddities passing through this play do so by being channeled through the vivid, hilarious, and slightly naughty imaginations of two young men reunited and reliving their imaginary childhood adventures when they built their own tiny cardboard city, known as Gilgamesh. One stayed in their hometown, the other went off and built a life in the big city. Now the city boy has returned in his friend's time of need, and the subtext underlying their reunion tour of Gilgamesh is powerful, and heartbreaking. When night comes to Gilgamesh, I nearly cried. And then they saved me by making me laugh one last time before they wandered off back into the dark.

Rarely have I seen male friendship in all its complexities portrayed so honestly and humorously. Normally there's a girl involved that they're both fighting over, or there is a war going on. What a relief to find a play that doesn't shy away from the intimacy possible between two men on an emotional level, and having it be about life and death of a very different kind.

The actors, Tim Gouran and Jonah Von Spreecken, are truly amazing. I quickly lost count of the number of roles they were taking on, and yet all the while, underneath the playacting, were the core characters of these two young men. Subtle stuff, but they never let you forget who the story was really about, and what was at stake. Really fine work. A nod, of course, has to go to the director Keri Healey, who put them through their paces and drew such great and funny performances out of them.

The greatest compliment I can give a playwright is to say that the play is so good that I wish I'd written it. That certainly applies here. Often a play is so good it makes me despair that I could ever do as well. But I try instead to let it be fuel to spur my own writing engine along. Thanks for the fuel, Scot Augustson, and for setting the bar just a little higher for the rest of us.

When leaving grad school, my decisions of places to live got narrowed down to Minneapolis and Seattle. Though I'm happy I settled here for so many reasons, a group like Ethereal Mutt makes me a little wistful for what I may be missing.

This is the joy and the pain of the Fringe, to run across a show so great you want to see it again, and then there's still all the other shows you haven't even seen once yet. While I'd gladly chuck the rest of my schedule if I had to in order to find room to see this show again, it seems I lucked out. There's a show Wednesday night at 10pm and my schedule's open. I am so there.

Also, it's not really a full 90 minute show. It runs just a little over an hour. So it's not gonna take as big a bite out of your Fringe schedule as you might first suspect. It's well worth whatever time you have to give it, and the fact that it doesn't take that much makes it all the more remarkable.

See this show. I don't have words to recommend it highly enough.

No comments: