Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fringe 2008 Top 11-20 - If you removed the gun from my head...

If you removed the gun from my head and I was allowed to see ten more Fringe shows, what would they be in and why...?

OK, I’d been running this part of the list backward, thinking I’d have better success closing in on the middle, but apparently not, as the day of Fringe opening has arrived.

So here’s what I had so far....

20 - Empty S Productions - Roofies In The Moccachino - their show page, my write up, a video clip and another video clip

19 - Culture Mesh Collective - Trying Guilt - their show page, my write up, a video clip

18 - Hometown Theater - War of the Worlds: The Musical - A Tribute To Old-Time Radio - their show page, my write up, a video clip

And now we’re gonna just have to dive in and try to make it brief if I’m to have any hope of posting this today...

17 - This one’s a father/daughter tag team, the Reivas - father Dan is behind

Electric Telescope - The Virginity of Astronauts

“A science-fiction adaptation of Euripedes play "Ion." A persistent knock on a spaceship's door near Mars... Who's there? Two astronauts face a powerful being's plan to control the universe in this updated Greek drama.”

I keep going to Electric Telescope shows for an evolving, and often conflicting, set of reasons. The first show I saw “Quantum Odyssey” was an interesting mix of ideas, updating another classic text. Not entirely successful, but I admired it for trying, and the parts that worked, really worked well. Last year, it was another sci-fi pastiche “The Cold Dark Matter At Hand” - again, a whole tossed salad and a half of ideas, literally crammed into a tiny Fringe-length running time, often bewildering, and heavy on the cheese, with some serious eye candy in the cast to make it all go down a little easier. This time around, the eye candy’s back - and we’re getting sci-fi and ancient legend thrown together in the same package. Honestly, it could be a complete train wreck, but I feel compelled to see it for myself and find out. Show page here, video clip here (and yes, "riding the tuna pony" - a part of me is deeply ashamed, but I'm still going).


Rachel Reiva - Love and Video Games

“As Jack struggles with the violence of his brother a a death of a parent, Stacy, a teenage ghost, believes the only was to help Jack is to hook him up with the hot guy next door.”

This one I feel slightly less “guilty”/”guilty pleasure” about. Rachel’s been working her way toward this over several years of performing in other people’s scripts in the Fringe. Now, it’s her work being staged, and that alone makes it exciting for me. What sealed the deal is just the delightful weirdness of the plot - a matchmaking ghost, trying to pair up two guys. (Wait, oh crap, now I know why that’s familiar). That aside, the video clip of their Fringe-For-All preview should make it a little clearer. The whole, “Wait, you want to match me up with another guy?!” stage of the plot is completely skipped over. Because in the world of Rachel’s play, it’s not a big deal. On that level, it’s being treated like just another romantic comedy, which I find really hopeful. So I’m rooting for this one on several levels. Show page here, video clip here

16 - Vanderpan Enterprises - Paul Bunyan Runs For President

"Lower Taxes, Bigger Axes. That's the message Paul Bunyan approves when America's biggest lumberjack runs for the country's highest office."

Three Days In Hell” from Vanderpan ended up on the tail end of my Fringe schedule last year almost by accident and I really enjoyed myself. Well-crafted comedy play, well-executed. I’m always up for more of that. One of that cast, and the playwright/director are returning for this one, so that’s all I need to know to recommend them. Show page here

15 - Megan Dowd - adjective

"Madison went looking for someone. Maybe someone to love. Maybe someone to screw. She found someone, stumbled across him, who she didn't expect. Who she stumbled upon, however, means everything to everyone."

Timothy J. Meyer did quadruple duty last time around in the Fringe - writer/actor/director/producer - with "Burning Bridges." This time around, he’s focusing in just on the script and letting others help with the remaining duties. Haven’t seen a script or a performance preview. I’m just interested, after seeing the first play, in how Meyer has grown as a playwright in the last couple of years, and where that’s taken his stories and his characters. Again, it’s an exploration of relationships, but this time it seems the emphasis is on the female, rather than the male, half of the couple. So I’m curious. Show page here

14 - Maddak Productions - The Mistress Cycle

"Mistress: A woman who illicitly occupies the place of wife. No male equivalent. Intimate musical tale 'The Mistress Cycle' explores choices and consequences of five women, historical and fictional. Engaging, enticing."

Mindy Eschedor is a regular with Nautilus Music Theater. I love Nautilus. They do adventurous new work on a monthly basis in their Rough Cuts series. They nurture the talent of writers, performers and musicians alike, locally. So if Mindy’s involved as producer and music director on this project with Maddak, that’s really all I need to know. The preview they did at Fringe-For-All (video clip here) only reinforced this. Interesting concept, high caliber talent. Why not? Show page here, video clip here

13 - Dean Hatton - Silent Poetry

"A collection of nonverbal comedic and dramatic skits inspired by the work of Marcel Marceau written and created by Dean Hatton, a student of Mr. Marceau's."

Mime. I know. I have friends who put up their hands and create an invisible wall in mock protest to protect themselves from mime. But I saw Dean perform as part of a Maximum Verbosity showcase not long ago, and man, was I wrong. He played a street mime who could only get people to give him money by pretending, in ever more gruesome fashion, to kill himself. (Everybody loves a mime in pain.) It was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in ages. Plus, at Fringe-For-All, he performed to the opening fanfare from the first Star Wars movie. So that appealed to the geek in me as well. Took him a while, but I think Dean's finally getting me to one of his Fringe shows - don't wait as long as I did. Join me there. It's good stuff. Show page here

12 - Lex-Ham Community Theater - Hue and Cry

"US premiere of a play by contemporary Irish playwright Deirdre Kinahan. Cousins Kevin and Damian meet for the funeral of Damian's father. Damian's long absence makes the meeting awkward as the two men try to reconnect and find life again."

This one’s for Grant Henderson. He was in the workshop of a new script I did last year, and the Fringe show I did four years back, and has helped develop new work with me pretty much every year in between. He’s a great actor. He inspires me to me a better writer. And the group in the Fringe is doing the US of premiere of an Irish play - and those Irish tend to shame me into being a better writer as well. So, all in all, this should be a good solid piece of theater. I’m really looking forward to it. Show page here

11 - Courtney Roche - Stupid Face

“Life is hard, but when you wake up to find your entire world has changed without consulting you, life turns into a real bitch. This is the story of one woman's quest to laugh in the stupid face of adversity.”

Every year at Fringe-For-All, I see at least one artist who makes me sit up and think, “Wow, I don’t care what I have to do to rearrange my carefully arranged schedule, I have to find a way to see this person. They’re amazing.” Last year, it was Allison Broeren’s spoken word contortions of language. This year, it’s Courtney Roche and her strangely hilarious tales of paralysis. She’s not only a great comic performer, she’s also apparently a great comic writer as well. Video clip here - you have to see it to understand what I’m talking about. Dammit, there goes the schedule. Happens every year, and it’s a problem I love to have. Thanks, Courtney. Show page here, video clip here

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