Saturday, August 09, 2003

Fringe - Day 8 - Part 4

Wind-Up Toys
Acadia Cafe

This is a nice opportunity for Gustavus grads and current students to gather and watch a couple of Gustavus playwrights spread their wings and experiment with new ideas.

Neither Toy Boat Scenes and Monologues nor Wind-Up Toys could yet be called a polished script. But there are seeds of interesting plays lurking in both.

Amy Seham's script, Toy Boat Scenes and Monologues, I think was a victim of its own structure. It was designed to be episodic. While all the scenes have to do in some fashion with toys, their place in our lives and what they reflect about our society, they didn't add up to a greater whole in the end. It was simply a series of short bits. There were many interesting things going on here - dealing with relationships, prejudice, and often how hard it is just to get through the day. Many were alternately touching or hilarious, some simply thought-provoking. But I kept wishing the author would have taken the extra step of literally tying them all together. It's not all that far away from having a single plot tie humans and toys together into something that is much larger than just the sum of its parts. Hopefully the playwright sees that, too, and the rewrites will take it to the next level. Because some of the ideas in this piece deserve to be part of more than just a collection of sketches on toys.

Wind-up Toys, by Nathan Morse, isn't quite a whole piece yet either, though it's obviously designed to have its three interwoven plotlines add up to a single story. What that story is, I couldn't tell you. The most interesting and compelling part of the story was the character of Buzzsaw, portrayed by S. Randall Schmeling (who gets the prize for biggest laugh of the evening with his bio, of all things - "Randy is a Gustavus graduate. He is an actor. He works at Starbucks." [There's life in American theater in a nutshell, folks] But back to his character... Buzzsaw has the evening's most intriguing structural device in that his monologues seem to come out of nowhere, but eventually all fold back in on themselves. In getting the end of his speeches, we are able to piece together the beginning. It's the most effective writing and acting of the evening.

There's one more chance to catch this double bill, Saturday evening.

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