Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fringe 2008 - Day 9 - Down and Dirty

Best Thing I Saw Friday

(still one performance left of this one, today, Sunday, August 10th, 5:30pm)

Roofies in the Moccachino - Empty S Productions - Interact Center

5 Stars - Very Highly Recommended

Michael Shaeffer is a wizard with language. Fair or foul, the words fairly dance in the air around him. Music and sex and sci fi and religion, old movies and old memories, along with his love for toying with the English language, all mix together in a brew that often provokes gasps and laughter, but also surprising moments of tenderness. It’s a pleasure to spend time hanging out in his company for an hour. Nice to know he’s moved back to the area, because it means we’ll get the chance to see him onstage more often between Fringes. Show page here, video clips here and here

The next two are already closed...

A Quirky Epic Journey

The Gypsy and The General - 3 Sticks - Theatre de la Jeune Lune

4-1/2 stars - Very Highly Recommended

One friend said it was a nice presentation but the plot was a little flimsy. Another friend said, “Who cares about the plot?” Uh, I do. The reason this rates as highly as it does is that the plot does indeed, unlike some other Fringe offerings, have a beginning, a middle, and an end. It just doesn’t deliver that final punch I kept expecting. The reason I was expecting it is 3 Sticks has crafted another production full of beguiling characters and images. Out of nothing more than four basic character costumes, an overhead projector, a metal barrel, some plastic tubes, a sheet, some rope, a little parachute silk, and a collection of colored socks, the ensemble creates an epic journey across the sea, into the jungle, over the desert, through the mountains and finally into the air in a hot air balloon. The whole thing is accompanied by a musician and original songs that help glue the narrative together and keep it moving along. It’s an enormously seductive and quirky production. The general on her quest, jettisoning fellow travelers as they get in her way, seems to be setting us up for some final moment of revelation, but it never comes. The set-up is fantastic. I’m just waiting for the payoff.

They're an active bunch, so follow along between Fringes at

Forcefully Presented Trio of New Plays

Hey, I’m Talking Murder Here - Rhino Productions - Rarig Proscenium

3 stars - Recommended

These plays have been painstakingly crafted over a number of months in the writing group I’m a part of, and I was looking forward to seeing them realized onstage. The four person cast throws themselves into the roles with gusto. There was much laughter in the audience of which I was a part. My sense was that the production was going for broke with the big comedic broad strokes, but in that strategy, a lot of the subtlety was lost. The sense of menace in one, the sense of an alternate reality in another, the levels of relationships in the third, all seemed to be present on the page, but missing from the production. This was a production choice and the actors delivered what they were asked to deliver - which was big laughs. As comedy that’s funny, I can’t find fault with it. I just found myself wishing the director, also the author, had trusted his work on the page enough to allow it to breathe a bit more - to not always go so hard for the joke and instead go for the humanity (even in his inhuman characters) underneath.

Fringe 2008 - Day 8 - Down and Dirty

There was no best thing I saw on Thursday.

It ended up being a three-way tie between productions that all had their high points, but all ended up settling somewhere just above the middle of the rating scale. So I’ll list them in the order that I saw them...

Mortem Capiendum - Four Humors - Rarig Thrust

3-1/2 stars - Recommended

They had me right up until the end. It was, as ever, Four Humors’ blend of good writing and equally good performance (though I could have done with a little less shouting and berating in the second half - a little goes a long way). The set-up was clever - a set of traveling snake oil salesman plying their wares to a hopefully gullible public. The actors, writers and director tweaked this premise in amusing and unexpected ways. The secret of what lies in their steamer trunk is what the play hinges on, so I’m loathe to give it away. But it was when that secret was released, in the play’s final minutes, that the whole thing seemed to come unglued. It was a play that was built on a host of lies, naturally, given the nature of these men’s business. But it seemed, up to a point, to be governed by a set of rules, its own reality with a recognizable structure that one could follow. Once the trunk was opened, it seemed like the script was trying to have it both ways, and they lost me. Talking to others afterward, more holes in the logic of the thing started to become apparent. It was still entertaining, and a hell of a premise. I know these guys can deliver on that premise. It’s just not quite there yet.

You can find them, and all the many things that are next at

The Boyshow - Youth Performance Company - Rarig Proscenium

3-1/2 stars - Recommended

I now know more unusual phraseologies for masturbation than I ever imagined possible. Any collection of sketches is going to have its ups and downs. There were a lot of moments of originality here which were quite enjoyable. The personal monologues which each member of the ensemble got to share were among the best dramatic moments. A steady diet of that, I know, would have been perhaps too earnest, but I found myself wishing for more moments of that kind of honesty, and less the straining to make the audience laugh. The more successful comedic bits were things like the aforementioned masturbation tutorial as a basement discussion over video games (which had its own moments of truth nicely played, threaded throughout the overall comedy). Also, a boy behind the wheel of a car, dogged by his roiling emotions, each represented by an actor taunting him with a stuffed monkey on a stick (no, that’s not another euphemism for masturbation). Two guys engaging in the awkward ritual of standing side by side at a urinal, while other actors as their inner voices crashed from one unfortunate thought into another, made for a lot of laughs. Some literal bits on video game reality, cheating in sports, and dealing with sexuality and identity issues were less successful, but overall the impulse behind this work was quite admirable. When it worked, it almost made up for the times that it didn’t. I’d like to see them keep working on this piece so that the whole thing rises to the level of their best material, both comic and dramatic. The talent on display says they’re capable of doing just that.

You can find what's next at

All Rights Reserved: A Libertarian Rage - Maximum Verbosity - Minneapolis Theater Garage

3-1/2 stars - Recommended

What surprised me about my response to this was the things I felt were missing. There were still a whole lot of the things I expected from Maximum Verbosity, the signature humor and smarts, even some familiar material seen in past showcases (all of which was welcome). But certain parts, like the meeting of the Peace League, or the Zombie political debate, seemed to make their point (good points to be made), and then keep bludgeoning it home, like maybe the audience missed it the first four or five times. There, I was missing an editor. Also, a sequence in which an actor, himself a playwright, portrays a playwright, there I was missing a clear sense of definition. The writer was made the object of ridicule, I get that. But what was the writer of the piece driving at? There were discussions wrapped up in that about art, race and the notion of language and its power to inflict harm as well as good. To have a healthy skepticism about anything a character says on stage is a good thing. But for an audience to have no bearings at all as to what the larger piece is trying to say (whether you agree with it or not) that’s just muddy. That said, there was still enough good material here to raise it above your average Fringe offering. As always, I look forward to more, and doubtless debating it over drinks afterward. Bad theater would be the kind I didn’t care about at all. Promising theater is the kind that bugs me. Maximum Verbosity, once again, bugs me.

They're mighty active between Fringes, so check them out online at

And of course I saw the fourth performance of my own show “The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon” and “Dog Tag,” which I’ll leave it up to other people to review.

Fringe 2008 - Day 11 - What (I Think) I'm Seeing Sunday

Reincarnation: Another Chance At Failure - Rampleseed - Rarig Thrust

5 stars - The third of my repeat visits. Another of my top 10 this year. I was deeply torn with this one. I also wanted to see another 5-star favorite (and fellow top 10 entry) “Shift” at 12 noon at the Bryant Lake Bowl, but they overlap and I can’t be two places at once. I went back and forth quite a bit on this one, but I think my mind’s made up to see Rampleseed one more time. I need the funny to start my day. Show page here, video clip here, write-ups here and here.

Ophelia - Studio Zero - Interact Center

Honestly? The director invited me, I happened to have the slot open. They’re an out-of-towner group at the Interact Center, and I’ve got a soft spot for underdogs. As you’ll see, the preview at the out-of-towner showcase was a little low on volume, but as you’ll also see, there’s something to pique pretty much anyone’s interest on display (whatever gets ‘em in the seats to see what ya got, I always say. Don’t matter how you get ‘em there, so long as you get ‘em there). I’m always interested in tweaking Shakespeare myself, so why not? Show page here, video clip here.

Adjective - Megan Dowd - playwrights center

One of my top 20 this year. As I said before, I know precious little about it, other than I enjoyed seeing Timothy Meyer’s last script in the Fringe a few years back, and I’m curious to see how he’s developed as a playwright. Again, my new play/underdog preferences are showing on this final day out. Show page here, write-up here.

Love & Video Games - Rachel Reiva - Rarig Thrust

Another one where I’m deeply torn. Both this and Culture Mesh Collective’s “Trying Guilt” are playing in this slot, and both are in my top 20 this year. Both new work, both by interesting artists. Both winding down their runs (it’s the last day, after all). But the ghost/gay content angle wins out by a hair. (I think. I’m still waffling, but I reserved a ticket). Show page here, video clip here, write-up here.

Hafengeist - Atomic Lotus & Invocatio - Ritz Theater

Liked their Fringe-For-All preview. I need a little more dance to round out my Fringing. (And yes, the fact that the male dancer’s cute doesn’t hurt its chances. And yes, I know he’s less than half my age, no need for a restraining order. It’s the end of 11 days of Fringing. Even if I were so inclined (and not dissuaded by the notion of, you know, committing a felony), I’m too tired to try anything, people. Give me a break.) Show page here, video clip here.

Fringe Encore

Here again, I'm torn. Of the Encores that I haven't already seen during their regular run, two stand out as things I really want to see. I was all ready to just take a pass on the 8:30 slot, until I read down to the middle of the list and saw "Cast of Dancing Delights" at the Southern (my director's wife is dancing in that one, so I had them on my short list, but it never worked out), and at the end of the list was "The Nosdrachir Sisters" in the Rarig Xperimental (I really like both the Richardson actresses' work, and I hear the show's just lovely - an amusing video clip here). So, there's no reservation in place for either, they're both on the West Bank, within walking distance from each other. First, I have to see if I'm truly up for one last show. Then, I have to see if I need the energy of a dance show to keep me engaged, or if I'm alert enough to enjoy a finely wrought seriocomic character study at the end of 11 days of Fringing. One final bit of Fringe dangling out there. In 11 hours or so, I'll know the answer...

Saturday, August 09, 2008

More Reviews for "The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon" and "Dog Tag"

"The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon" and "Dog Tag" has closed up shop, but the reviews from the audience keep coming in. 2 more that were happy with us, another not so much. But it's interesting to read through people's reactions. So keep 'em coming. If you saw our closing performance last night, we'd love to hear from you. Audience reviews make good fodder for future publicity materials so we welcome your feedback, even though the show's run is done.

Right now, we're in a three-way tie with Fotis and Robin Hood (now there's an unusual trio), for seventh place among the list of most-reviewed shows. Not bad for a couple of little plays in a sea of 155 other productions out there. It's nice that people feel moved to type something up about the experience - positive or negative (I fear indifference more than negativity, most days).

Thanks to the reviewers, and the audiences in general, that made this such a great experience for all of us involved in the production. It was a good run largely because of all of you.

The latest...

Well Played!

Matthew A. Everett + Anne Bertram + the clever direction by William T. Leaf + an outrageously talented cast = an amazing show! I saw this show twice. - 5 kitties - Krista J. van Eps

Uncomfortably well done!

So yes, I must admit I was a little uncomfortable watching the first scene, "The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon". Not because of the content, but because the performances of Buddy Haardt and Sasha Andreev were so real that you could feel their characters' discomfort, awkwardness, and need throughout the room. VERY well acted and the script was great. Joe Bombard was my favorite part of "Dog Tag" as the dog, Percy. This scene is just so... cute - in a good way. Stellar performances and writing. I can't get over how well crafted the scripts are. Matthew Everett and Anne Bertram do not disappoint. I'm looking out for these scenes to go to colleges and other festivals in the future. Go see this show! - 5 kitties - Greg Hammond

Stage imagery?

These two short plays (while they have interesting premises) by Matthew Everett and Anne Bertram both were incredibly predictable. The actors did what they could with the script and Leaf's staging, but neither of these works produced very interesting stage pictures. Bronze Bitch - (Everett) The stakes of this piece felt like watching a highly sexualized high school debate which had not much subtext. I felt that the arc of this piece went no where. At times the show peaked during the intense sexual chemistry of the two actors, but the script left them no room to breathe. The metaphors were blatant - the chem lab easily translates into a metaphor about the experimentation of the two young men, yet one of the characters has to tell us this. Don't underestimate the intelligence of your audience. Dog Tag - (Bertram & Everett) The piece was a scene that also goes no where. The dog bit was interesting to watch, but all we saw was a brief glimpse into the lives of these young men. The conflict was barely there. I would call this piece more of a tableau except for the movement of the dog. Together I give the pieces a 2 out of 5. - 2 kitties - Cody Stewart

Fringe 2008 - Day 10 - What (I Think) I'm Seeing Saturday

Gone, Gone, Gone - Monica Rodero & Daniel Schuchart - Southern Theater

Liked their preview in the out-of-towner showcase a lot. Just been trying to figure out when I could go see them. Turns out, today’s the day. Really looking forward to it. Show page here, video clip here.

Conundrum Rehabbed - Joseph Bingham - Ritz Theater

5 stars - The first of my repeats for the year. One of my top 10. Mom and I both loved it. This would be my last chance to catch it, so off to the Ritz I go. Show page here, video clip here, write-ups here and here.

The Fish, The Fruit, & The Pet Coffin Maker - Flowershop Project - Lab Theater

One of the cast, David Schlosser, was in my last Fringe show, and I love any theater company like Flowershop that tries year round to foster new plays by local playwrights. So I’d been trying to figure out a way to finally get over to the Lab. This looks like the time. It's on the way back from the Ritz, on the way to the Rarig, where I need to be as load-in/load-out guy for the rest of the night. Show page here, video clip here.

The Pumpkin Pie Show - Horse Trade Theater Group - Rarig Thrust

To be honest, the preview at the out of towner showcase made both Mom and me a bit uncomfortable. After all, while I’m sure they don’t hate people with vaginas (some of their best friends have vaginas), there’s a fine line between making fun of misogynists, and just inadvertently giving them more ammunition. But they’ve been getting rave reviews (Horse Trade, not misogynists). And they have also been friendly but persistent self-promoters throughout the festival. So I’m gonna give them a try. Show page here, video clip here.

Phi Alpha Gamma - Dan Bernitt - Rarig Xperimental

5 stars - The second of my repeat visits. Dan Bernitt is a returning favorite from Fringes past. And this new show is top notch. One of the best of the Fringe this year. I have to see it again. I have seen 41 performances of 38 shows so far. Several things were as good as Phi Alpha Gamma. But nothing's been better. Show page here, full review here.

The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon” and “Dog Tag” - Magicword Theater Compay - Rarig Arena

One last performance for us. I spent much of the morning doing the paperwork having to do with the Equity actors in the cast, and writing out the checks for everyone. Not much, only a fraction of what they’re worth, but it’s something, and we budgeted for it all up front. With luck, we’ll make some money back and I can give them all a bit more. Right now, just want to get one last good crowd in the doors to see their great work. If you haven’t seen us yet, now’s your last chance. If you have seen us, thanks for spreading the word and reviewing us online. It’s made a big difference. I’ll be sorry to see it end, but I can’t complain. We’ve had a good run. And now I get to see it one last time before we pack it up and take it away. Show page here, video clip here, write-ups here, here and here.

I have no idea. It’s our strike as well as our load-out, but the show’s short, so I might actually be able to make to another show, even if it’s not in the Rarig. There’s a ton of good stuff going on at 10pm, so who knows? Even if I don’t go, you all should. Time’s running short. Only a few hours left to Fringe.

Closing Night Tonight for "The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon" and "Dog Tag"

Closing night tonight for us, even though the Fringe still has another day to run. "The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon" and "Dog Tag" takes its final bow

tonight, Saturday, August 9th at 8:30pm

If you haven't already seen us, you've got one last chance. If you have, and you liked us, please spread the word among friends and family and fellow artists. I'd like to give these guys one last good crowd before we close up shop. They're doing great work.

We've got a couple more audience reviews to add to the pile - two glowing ones, in fact. Very flattering.

Thanks to all who attended the show so far, and to those who helped make us, currently, one of the top ten most-reviewed shows by audience members on the Fringe website.

Still holding steady at 4-1/2 out of 5 kitties with 36 reviews.

The latest are...

Practically Flawless

Solid, believable acting, intricate scripts, memorable staging. Andreev shines as a frat boy, Haardt holds up his end and Bombard excells, even as the security guard. Hard to find something to critize. The only thing I've given 5 kitties the whole festival. - 5 kitties - Timothy Meyer


I left this show wanting much more which is something I almost never experience after a show. Both parts were beautifully put together and the acting by all involved was fantastic. It was nice seeing the beginning of a relationship in the first scene and then an ending (or possible re-beginning) in the second. The dichotomy was refreshing to see instead of watching relationship building; the relationships were already present and very solid. The actors brought you into their worlds and every character was very relatable. There was no sense of liking one more then the other, what each was going through was universal in both scenes. Until Dog Tag I have never enjoyed watching an actor play an animal that spoke. He was very good at showing what a dog must be thinking at any given time. The dog brought so much to that scene adding comedy where it needed to be but also meaning to things that happen in every day life. I especially liked his exit at the end, it was very realistic. It was interesting to see the dog being in charge at some points in the piece. The writing for the dog was very funny especially with the dog giving his ownerâs orders and telling them to "come here boy," "scratch my stomach boy," etc. All around I loved this show. The writing and acting is incredible and the only bad thing I can say about the show is that there was simply not enough. I wish both pieces were a full play. A must see! - 5 kitties - Roni Goldstein


Final performance

Tonight, Saturday, August 9th, 8:30pm

Show page here, video clip here, write-ups here, here and here

Fringe 2008 - TC Daily Planet Blog Update

We were a little behind in posting yesterday, so there have been a handful of new posts going up since then over on the TC Daily Planet site. They are...

You Know It's Been A Long Dry Spell When...


Quickie Rundowns of Each Day

Day 7 - Down and Dirty - Wednesday - American Sexy (2 stars); Beowulf or Gilgamesh - You Decide (5 stars); The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon, and Dog Tag; Jack (3-1/2 stars)


Fringe Scheduling

Day 8 - Thursday - All Rights Reserved: A Libertarian Rage; The Boyshow; The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon, and Dog Tag, Mortem Capiendum

Day 9 - Friday - The Gypsy and The General; Hey, I'm Talking Murder Here!, Roofies in the Moccachino


Reviews for "The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon" and "Dog Tag"

August 7 - Audience reviews from John-Mark Hostetler, Charlie Hansen, Jesse Maple, Alex Klute, Kara Greshwalk, Bill Teska, Dixie Treichel, Amelia Miller, Gretchen Page, and Reier Erickson

August 8 Audience Reviews from Robert Kovarik, Madison E. Rubenstein, Tom Emmott, Christine Nelson, Taylor Marshall-Miernicki, and re gurgitate

Friday, August 08, 2008

Fringe 2008 - Day 7 - Down and Dirty

Best Thing We Saw Wednesday

Beowulf or Gilgamesh - You Decide - Chopping Block & Charlie Bethel - Rarig Arena

5 Stars - Very Highly Recommended

“Is there a 6?” Mom asked, immediately upon the conclusion of Charlie Bethel’s staggeringly good rendition of the legend of “Beowulf” the other night. A 6? Oh, on a scale of 1 to 5 stars - Mom wants to give it a 6. Nicely done, Mr. Bethel. It was, easily, some of the best theater we’ve seen this Fringe. One guy, one great story, told with great flair, humor, and insight. Death comes to all, even heroes. It’s what you do while you’re alive that counts. A rollicking adventure tale with a brain as big as its heart, and as strong as its guts. Either way, "Beowulf or Gilgamesh", in Charlie Bethel’s hands, you’re in for some of the best performance work in the Fringe, this year, or any other. (How exactly did all the theaters in town let this guy slip away to the east coast? Thank God he comes back to visit.) Show page here, video clip here.

CLOSED - but he might get the Encore slot at the Arena, so if you didn’t catch him, cross your fingers...

Enchanting Execution, A Little Light On Content

Jack - Eric Van Wyck - Mixed Blood

3-1/2 Stars - Recommended

This was enchanting, start to finish. From the evisceration by the giant of the hapless puppets we thought would be our narrators, to the playful shadow work, to the cow jumping over the moon, to a torrent of beans spilling out onto the stage (and a bit into the audience as well, watch your step), to the bird that lays the golden egg just wanting to break its bonds and fly free again, to puppet Jack’s interactions with the puppeteer giant - this thing was a one-man puppet wonderland. But the story was a little thin. We had Jack and the beanstalk as a starting place, of course, and a loose adaptation is not necessarily a bad one. But if you didn’t already know the story, I’m not sure you’d be able to figure out what was going on from this production. It was a lot of interesting moments strung together, with some unexpected twists, but it didn’t necessarily end up giving the audience a complete picture. Again, though, what was there, was truly enchanting. If you like puppet work, Jack is a good Fringey example of someone pushing the boundaries in interesting ways. Show page here, video clip here

Remaining Performances -
Mixed Blood Theater
TONIGHT! Friday, August 8th, 4pm
Tomorrow - Saturday, August 9th, 2:30pm
And closing on Sunday, August 10th, 5:30pm

Sorry, I Don’t Get It

American Sexy - New Theatre Group - Rarig Arena

2 Stars - Not Bad, Needs Some Work

I’m still baffled by this one. The director’s great, the playwright’s great, the cast is great. So what they came up with, collaboratively created especially for this team of artists and this Fringe, must be deliberate. Why they’re asking us to visit this particular world and these particular people at this particular time, I have no idea. If I were a person of college age, I might be offended. While presenting the audience with four wholly unlikable characters is certainly a valid choice, I wasn’t at all sure why I was being asked to watch them, and dislike them. If you want me to wish for bad things to happen to these people, mission accomplished. They’re vapid, sleazy, hypocritical, racist, mean-spirited, and oppressive. Sure, I found myself thinking, “And we wonder why the rest of the world hates us? Look at these people. If that’s all other people see of Americans, I can’t blame them for resenting us and our privilege.” But that’s not a new or particularly piercing insight. If that was the point, the play didn’t give me anything to hang it on. If that’s your point, fine. But then what? The thing didn’t go anywhere, it didn’t end, it just stopped. Show page here

Remaining Performances -
University of Minnesota Rarig Center Arena
TONIGHT! Friday, August 8th, 7pm
Tomorrow - Saturday, August 9th, 10pm

Right after “American Sexy,” Mom got to see “The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon” and “Dog Tag” one last time. It was a great way for her to round out her time this year at the Fringe. But I should leave it to others to evaluate. The actors brought some new shadings to the material after a couple of days off, the audience was enthusiastic and very supportive. All in all, a very good night for our little show. We’ve got one more performance left - our final show on Saturday, August 9th at 8:30pm. If you haven’t already, catch us while you can. If you’ve been in the crowds up to know and liked it, please help spread the word with those you know, and maybe leave us a comment on the Fringe web page for our show if you want. Show page here, video clip here, write-ups here, here and here

More Reviews for "The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon" and "Dog Tag"

We've got one last day off before our final performance of "The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon" and "Dog Tag," and a few more audience members weighed in with their opinons...

Still holding strong at 4-1/2 out of 5 kitties with 32 reviews posted

It was split decision from this latest bunch however, as you'll see...

Top Notch

Extremely well crafted and well acted plays! Blond Bitch displays excellent and thoughtful dialog exploring the natures of sex and friendship. Dog Tag follows as a nice comedic foil showcasing Joe Bombard's wonderful skills in creating the character of Percy the dog. All three actors gave stellar performances. A "must see"! - 5 kitties - Robert Kovarik

Exceeds Excellence!

I already had high expectations walking into this show knowing that Matthew Everett was the writer, along with Anne Bertram. I walked out of the show more than impressed. Not only is the story well written, and intelligently constructed but the actors themselves are outstanding. All three actors show immense skill and talent, but who is undoubtedly unforgettable is Buddy Haardt. In both shows Haardt is a master of subtlety. I could not find a dishonest moment through out the show portrayed by any of the actors, but Haardt's essence within itself draws me to him. While I loved Joe Bombardâs performance, it seemed that at times he outshined the other actors. Bombard has an energy that he brought to both characters that made it impossible to look away. Sasha Andreev completely owns both of his roles, and I believe him the whole way through. Not once during either show was I at all confused by any of the characterâs intentions. I give this show Five Kitties and insist on everyone seeing it! - 5 kitties - Rubenstein, Madison E

Beautifully written!

Both plays were beautifully written. They were sensitive, intimate, funny and poignant. Matthew Everett and Anne Bertram are both wonderful playwrights. The acting was skillfully executed by Sasha Andreev,Joe Bombard and Buddy Haardt with very good direction by William Leaf. Great venue. Don't miss these! - 5 kitties - Tom Emmott

Pretty darn awesome

I really liked these shows! The writing was clever, touching and funny. The 3 guys did a great job- but I have to give Joe crazy mad props for acting just like my chocolate lab- SO cute! My only complaint was that I would have loved both plays to be longer, especially the second. - 4 kitties - Christine Nelson


For the first half of the show i would say i enjoyed it but there was a lot of diolouge and not a whole lot of action. the most physical part is when the boys are almost caught and jump behind a desk. i just wished for something more than pacing around. the second half was too much like the first half, story wise that is. the dog, played by Bombard, was the most interesting characater because it went through different emotions. everyone kept the same. i would say i liked the show, but not loved it. - 3 kitties - Taylor Marshall-Miernicki

Not sure....

I liked the second scene better than the first, but I'm not sure if I'd recommend catching this. Both stories seemed rather open ended and I found myself not really caring about the characters, except the dog. - 3 kitties - re gurgitate


We've got one final performance before we close up shop

Tomorrow night, Saturday, August 9th at 8:30pm

Thanks to all who've attended so far, and shared your comments, both online and off. If you haven't seen us yet, there's still one more chance. Hope to see you there.

Show page here (add your own comments, if you want), video clip here, write-ups here, here and here

Fringe 2008 - Day 9 - An Abbreviated Day of Fringing

So, flying solo again today, and I'm seeing...

The Gypsy and The General - 3 Sticks - Theatre de la Jeune Lune

A returning favorite. 3 Sticks always does some most unusual physical theater work, creating fantastical worlds out of the oddest circumstances. I’ve been hearing a lot of great buzz about this one, so I’m glad I was finally able to squeeze it onto my schedule. Show page here, video clip here, write-up here

After tonight, just one more performance
Tomorrow - Saturday, August 9th at 7pm

Roofies in the Moccachino - Empty S Productions - Interact Center

One of this year’s top 20. The man is a wizard with words. I’ve already seen a couple of excerpts, so I’m looking forward to finally seeing the whole show. Show page here, video clips here and here, write-up here.

After tonight, just two more performances
Tomorrow, Saturday, August 9th at 10pm
Sunday, August 10th at 5:30pm

Hey, I’m Talking Murder Here - Rhino Productions - Rarig Proscenium - CLOSING PERFORMANCE

Another returning favorite. Saw these three oddball scripts in development, and I liked them, so I’m curious to see how they all play out in front of an audience. Nice way to end the evening a bit early for me. Show page here, video clip here, write-up here.

After that, I’m off to my co-writer and pal Anne Bertram’s place for a little joint cast party/Fringe celebration for “The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon” and “Dog Tag” and Theatre Unbound’s Fringe entry this year “Brilliant Traces” while we both have the night off - so I won’t be hitting the 8:30pm and 10pm slots tonight - blasphemous as that sounds coming from me at Fringe time.

Tomorrow and Sunday, two very full days of Fringing ahead, with some mystery slots at the end that I’m still not entirely sure what I’m seeing. More on that in another post.

Fringe 2008 - TC Daily Planet Blog Update

Here's a quick list of links to the posts as they exist over on blog for Twin Cities Daily Planet site since July 31...

Fringe Top 10 - the rest...

#9 - Sara Stevenson Scrimshaw - Dance of the Whisky Faerie
also DRP Dance's Modern Muses

#10 - Youth Performance Company/Young Artists Council - The Boyshow, and Reefer Madness: The Musical

#10.5 - Magicword Theater Company - The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon, and Dog Tag

Fringe Top 10 - The List

1 - Rampleseed - Reincarnation: Another Chance At Failure
2 - No Refunds Theater - Sun Tzu's The Art of War
3 - The Drollery - Watthen Wherenow: A Pinkerton Tribute
4 - Joseph Bingham - Conundrum Rehabbed, also Kari Jensen's Ars Longa, Vita Brevis
5 - Jonas Goslow - Shift
6 - Patty Nieman - Secrets of the Little Yellow Diary
7 - Questionable Company Theater - Orange
8 - Onomatopoeia Productions - Dandelion
9 - Sara Stevenson Scrimshaw - Dance of the Whisky Faerie, also DRP Dance's Modern Muses
10 - Youth Performance Company/Young Artists Council - The Boyshow, and Reefer Madness: The Musical
10.5 - Magicword Theater Company - The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon, and Dog Tag

Fringe Top 11-20 - the list

11 - Courtney Roche - Stupid Face
12 - Lex-Ham Community Theater - Hue and Cry
13 - Dean Hatton - Silent Poetry
14 - Maddak Productions - The Mistress Cycle
15 - Megan Dowd/Timothy J. Meyer - Adjective
16 - Vanderpan Enterprises - Paul Bunyan Runs For President
17 - Electric Telescope Theater - The Virginity of Astronauts, and Rachel Reiva's Love and Video Games
18 - Hometown Theater - War of the Worlds: The Musical - A Tribute To Old Time Radio
19 - Culture Mesh Collective - Trying Guilt
20 - Empty S Productions - Roofies in the Moccachino


The Quickie Rundowns of Each Day

Fringe Day 1 - Down and Dirty - opening Thursday - Attack of the Big Angry Booty (4-1/2 stars), Dandelion (3 stars), Phi Alpha Gamma (5 stars), Shift (5 stars)

Fringe Day 2 - Down and Dirty - Friday - The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon, and Dog Tag; Cowboy Dragqueen (2-1/2 stars); Reincarnation: Another Chance At Failure (5 stars); School of Rockstars (4-1/2 stars)

Fringe Day 3 - Down and Dirty - Saturday - Boys Don't Make Passes At Girls Who Wear Glasses (4-1/2 stars); The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon, and Dog Tag; The Cody Rivers Show presents Stick To Glue (5 stars); My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels (4 stars); One Night Only With Mike Mahony (4-1/2 stars); Shakespeare's Land of the Dead (5 stars); Tipping The Bucket (5 stars)

Fringe Day 4 - Down and Dirty - Sunday - Conundrum Rehabbed (5 stars), An Intimate Evening With Fotis part 2 (5 stars), Silent Poetry (5 stars), Strawberry Fields Temporarily (5 stars), Stupid Face (5 stars), Sun Tzu's The Art of War (5 stars), The Virginity of Astronauts (2 stars)

Fringe Day 5 - Down and Dirty - Monday - Monday - Hue and Cry (5 stars), Orange (4 stars), Paul Bunyan Runs for President (4-1/2 stars), Secrets of the Little Yellow Diary (5 stars)

Fringe Day 6 - Down and Dirty - Tuesday - Ars Longa, Vita Brevis (Art Is Long, Life Is Short) (5 stars); Boom (5 stars); Dance of the Whisky Faerie (4 stars); Suitcase Cabaret (3 stars)


Fringe Scheduling

What's Mom Seeing Tonight?

Fringe Day 2 - Friday - The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon, and Dog Tag; Cowboy Dragqueen; Reincarnation: Another Chance At Failure; School of Rockstars

Fringe Day 3 - Saturday - Boys Don't Make Passes At Girls Who Wear Glasses; The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon, and Dog Tag; The Cody Rivers Show presents Stick To Glue; My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels; One Night Only With Mike Mahony; Shakespeare's Land of the Dead; Tipping The Bucket

Fringe Day 4 - Sunday - Conundrum Rehabbed, An Intimate Evening With Fotis part 2, Silent Poetry, Strawberry Fields Temporarily, Stupid Face, Sun Tzu's The Art of War, The Virginity of Astronauts

Fringe Day 5 - Monday - Hue and Cry, Orange, Paul Bunyan Runs for President, Secrets of the Little Yellow Diary

Fringe Day 6 - Tuesday - Ars Longa, Vita Brevis (Art Is Long, Life Is Short); Boom; Dance of the Whisky Faerie; Suitcase Cabaret

Fringe Day 7 - Wednesday - American Sexy; Beowulf or Gilgamesh - You Decide; The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon, and Dog Tag; Jack


Full Reviews

5 Stars

Phi Alpha Gamma


Silent Poetry

Sun Tzu's The Art of War

4-1/2 Stars

Attack of the Big Angry Booty

3 Stars



Review For The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon...

August 3 - Star Tribune, Pioneer Press, and Audience Reviews from Jeffrey McCants, Bradley Johnson, Sharon Baker, Derek Henderson, Theo Langason, & Dan Pinkerton

August 4 - Audience Reviews from Richard Heise, Madee Weisner, Erica Mauter

August 5 - Audience Reviews from Sasha Vypilovskaia, Kyle Wilman

August 6 - Audience Reviews from Emily Gunyou Halaas, M. Be, Christopher R. Smith, Justin Windschitl, and Phillip Andrew Bennett Low

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Fringe 2008 - Day 8 - First Day Fringing Without Mom - What Will I See Thursday Night?

“The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon” and “Dog Tag” - Magicword Theater - Rarig Arena

I know I just saw it at 10pm last night, but I’m looking forward to it anyway. I’m learning a lot from the actors and audience about what works in my writing, and what could work better. Come instruct me. The guys are all doing great work and I like to get them a decent crowd any way I can. Show page here, video clip here, write-ups here, here and here.

Mortem Capiendum - Four Humors - Rarig Thrust

Another returning favorite. Yes, “Shift” was probably already enough to give me an inferiority complex where Nick Ryan’s concerned. Sure, I’m a glutton for punishment. I’m trying to think of it instead as a kick in the butt to do better. Mom’s friend David saw the show last night and raved about it. Not that I’m at all surprised. Looking forward to another smartly written and acted piece of work from the Four Humors crew. Show page here.

The Boyshow - Youth Performance Company - Rarig Proscenium

One of this year’s top ten. I know zip about the show other than Youth Performance Company’s doing it. YPC is enough to sell me on pretty much anything. They do solid work. Should be a nice change of pace. Show page here.

All Rights Reserved: A Libertarian Rage - Maximum Verbosity - Minneapolis Theater Garage

Another returning favorite. Among Mom’s big regrets (not being able to see some shows twice), perhaps the biggest is that we couldn’t get Phillip Andrew Bennett Low’s show to fit on our schedule while she was in town. Thankfully, I have the second half of the Fringe left for myself to correct the error.

There are moments you start to wonder if your artist friends have gone too far and are headed for a big crash and burn. I have to admit, the strident publicity for this show and the crucifixion imagery, if I didn’t know the artist, would have turned me off. But then the hilarious Fringe-For-All preview hit, and the reviews from the out of town Fringes they visited started rolling in, and I realized my worries were unfounded. Just as brazen as ever, but still plenty of humor to make the political rants go down smoothly. Maximum Verbosity puts on another Fringe show completely different than the ones that came before it, and it looks like they’ve got another winner on their hands. Can’t wait to see the whole thing for myself. Seems like a fitting end to the first day without Mom around to accompany me. She’ll be there in spirit, though she’s physically now staying with friends in Indiana for a couple of days on her leisurely driving tour back home. Show page here, video clip here.

I’ll be going the rest of the Fringe alone, folks, so if you see me out and about and want to join me, don’t be shy. I like the company and theater is always better shared.

Right now, I’m typing this waiting for a new tire to be put on my car. After checking Mom out of the hotel and shifting my stuff from her car to mine, we noticed the right front tire was mighty low. Put in some air, and as I crossed around to the driver’s side, the tire blew out. Better in a parking lot than the open road, I guess. It’s been a vicious trip for tires this Fringe. Mom blew a tire in Wisconsin, and we came out after a 10pm show at the Rarig earlier this week to discover a different tire on her car had gone flat. So, as she leaves town, she passes the tire kharma on to me, just to keep things consistent. One of these mornings, I’m actually going to get right to the blogging first thing. This morning clearly isn’t it.

Fringe 2008 - You Know It's Been A Long Dry Spell When...

... you find yourself purchasing condoms for fictional characters rather than yourself, because you know the fictional characters in the play are going to have need of them before you ever will.

Just a random observation from the writer, producer and prop wrangler for "The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon" and "Dog Tag"

More Reviews for "The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon" and "Dog Tag"

We had a bit of an audience review explosion after last night's performance of "The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon" and "Dog Tag." Ten more audience members weighed in, which is very exciting...

Still holding fast at 4-1/2 kitties overall after 26 reviews...

The Fringe site did some updating, and now the latest reviews appear at the top of the page, so you can easily see the most recent comments...


Fantastic writing! Fantastic actors! I left with all my entertainment needs fulfilled. In "Bronze Bitch", the story flowed, and the expertise of the actors along with the intimacy of the venue made me feel like I was right there! - 5 kitties - John-Mark Hostetler


The tension, emotion and chemistry in "Bronze Bitch" was genuine and visceral. The characters' anxiety was so palpable that when the lights came up, I found my program torn to pieces and no memory of doing it. Mercifully, "Dog Tag" gives you a chance to relax with a very funny and very clever performance from Joe Bombard. Very well done, indeed! - 5 kitties - Charlie Hansen

solo date night

I went to see the two scenes not know what to expect, as I am no master of these sorts of things. I was pleasantly suprised by the smooth performances of both actors... it was believable in a make believe world. I thought each character played and fit their roles very well, and the subject matter was serious sprinkled with tender and humorous moments. I loved how upfront with (some of ) the realities of homosexuality the first scene was. You could feel that they felt naked standing there which gave the scene that edge of a real moment. The second was very cute. The dog was great as were the other two guys... you could feel the longing, hesitation. All in all im glad I took time out to see the performance. - 4 kitties - jesse maple


Two great, short performances by three outstanding actors. It's one of those shows where you can actually feel the awkwardness the characters are experiencing ...because you forget they're acting! It doesn't hurt that they're all three really easy on the eyes! See. It. Today. - 5 kitties - Alex Klute

5 Kitties for this 'Bitch'

It isn't often you see a Fringe show with writing that is equal parts subtle, witty, and sexy. And you never get such a consistently talented cast with such amazing chemistry. I didn't see a single moment that felt forced, and oh my god--I loved Joe Bombard's dog! He physically threw himself into the role and I couldn't take my eyes off him! Congrats to all on an honest and lovely show. I only wish it could have gone on longer. - 5 kitties - Kara Greshwalk

I felt like an eavesdropper!

That's how convincing the acting was - I was almost ashemed to be listening in on other people's fears and hopes and deepest feelings. Andreev and Haardt's timing and expression were that realistic. And Bombard's Percy-the-Dog stole that show. He really had the canone moves down. My only criticism is that I would have cast the two leads in opposite roles in "Bitch". To my taste, Haardt seems nearer the frat-boy and Andreev the nerd. - 5 kitties - Bill Teska

Gay Minatures

It's always a humanitarian pleasure to see gay characters portrayed in a non-stereotypical manner. Both shorts succeeded completely in bringing humor, emotion & creativity to the foreground. Well acted. Kudos to Everett & Bertram. - 4 kitties - dixie treichel

Bittersweet and heart tugging

Bronze Bitch Flies at Noon tugged at parts of my heart I had forgot about. It is such an excellent interpretation of those first real feelings and real connections to sexuality. Dog Tag was absolutely, without a doubt stolen by Joe Bombard's canine character "Percy". I do wish that it had developed further. I wanted to know more about Ed and Paul. I wanted to know the back story and the future story. Like all truly great story telling, it left me wanting more of everything. - 5 kitties - Amelia Miller

Poignant and Hilarious

Touching story, brilliantly acted, directed well in the arena space. Story includes all the awkwardness that the situation presents, portrayed very honestly by the cast. Fantastic! - 5 kitties - Gretchen Page

I wanted more!

This was great! Really well written and really well performed... one kitty less because I we could have made the first one longer and lost the second one... they were both good... but the first was so much better. - 4 kitties - Reier Erickson


Thanks again to all who've attended, and to all those who also took time to type up a little something on the Fringe site. Everyone involved in the production really appreciates it. Word of mouth is our best friend in filling those seats. If you haven't already, but would like to post a review, just log onto the Fringe website and visit our show page.

We still have two performances left of

"The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon" and "Dog Tag"

TONIGHT - Thursday, August 7th at 5:30pm
Final performance on Saturday, August 9th at 8:30pm

Show page here, video clip here, write-ups here, here, and here.

Spread the word. And thanks again.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Fringe 2008 - Day 6 - Down and Dirty

Best Thing We Saw Yesterday

Boom - IL Productions - Rarig Arena

5 Stars - Very Highly Recommended

After seeing this, our friend David is all the more anxious to see the Cody Rivers Show as well. Andrew Connor, one half of the Cody Rivers duo, tears up the stage all by himself in this one, with a multitude of a characters in a town down on its luck, hopeful that the new space center will change their fortunes. It does, but not in any of the ways they expected. Central to it all is a sentimental bomb-maker who doesn’t like to blow things up. Instead, his bombs make things happen, setting off a domino effect that still gets him what he wants, without violence and explosions. When darker forces want to hire his talents for their own less than savory ends, the bomb-maker has some hard decisions, as well as creative bombs, to make in the hopes of making things right. A dazzling piece of solo work. Show page here, video clip here

Remaining Performances -
University of Minnesota Rarig Center Arena
TONIGHT - Wednesday, August 6th, 5:30pm
Saturday, August 9th, 1pm

A Close Second for Best Thing We Saw Yesterday

Ars Longa Vita Brevis - Kari Jensen - Ritz Theater

5 Stars - Very Highly Recommended

Our first show of the night last night and a great way to introduce our friend David to the Minnesota Fringe Festival. New local choreographer Kari Jensen creates some gorgeous stage pictures with her crew of dancers, all but one female (not counting their great special guest, that is). The music is closer to classical than other Fringe fare we’ve seen, but still often had an electronic edge. Every now and again some latin flavor peeks in as well. Mostly, it’s all about the graceful, fluid movements of some remarkable young dancers. Sometimes the human body in motion is the most-boggling special effect of all. Show page here

Remaining Performances -
Ritz Theater
TONIGHT - Wednesday, August 6th, 8:30pm
Friday, August 8th, 4pm
Saturday, August 9th, 7pm

An Interesting Hybrid

Dance of the Whisky Faerie - Sara Stevenson Scrimshaw - Southern Theater

4 Stars - Highly Recommended

Vintage Scrimshaw in a lot of ways - Sara and her usual breathtaking range of motion, Joseph and his wild-eyed comedic take on storytelling. Sometimes the two styles gelled better than others. Ultimately, the two threads of the production didn’t feed off each other the way I thought they would. They built separately rather than together to their own conclusions. Both endings were satisfying, and the show overall was something about which our friend David said, “That was quite charming.” I’d be interested to see them keep tinkering with this one. I get the feeling they could be just as great a team onstage as off. As it stands now, the Whisky Faerie is a lot of fun to spend some time with. Show page here, video clip here.

Southern Theater
Saturday, August 9th, 8:30pm

A Curious Experiment

Suitcase Cabaret - Claire Simonson - Intermedia Arts

3 Stars - Recommended

Mom and I were really looking forward to this one, and to showing it off to our friend David. He was impressed, but Mom and I thought something was a little off. Claire’s signature style is still there - storytelling mixed with her multimedia bag of tricks. The cast of characters is familiar and growing - St. Claire (patron saint of television), Devil Duckie (now a political commentator as well) and Barbie are joined by Uncurious George (a chimp standing in for a current world leader who need not be named). But stretches of the video work were out of focus, the political musings surprisingly bitter, and the show seemed to be building to an end point a few times before it actually did end. A good friend who died suddenly, who Claire references several times throughout, seems to have thrown her for more of a loop than perhaps she thought. Tales of this lost friend are what ground the show, and give it added depth and heart. It may be that her wearing the dead man’s shirt, the way Howard Lieberman wore his dead father’s dancing shoes a couple of Fringes ago, has given Claire the foundation of a show that isn’t quite ready to be written yet. Still, with all that, it’s Claire Simonson, and I’d go see her brand of Fringe shows, and recommend them to others, ahead of a lot of other acts out there any day. Show page here, write-up here.

Intermedia Arts
Sunday, August 10th, 4pm

Fringe 2008 - Day 7 - What's Mom's Final Day of Fringing for 2008 Look Like?

Mom’s final day of Fringing for 2008, and the next round of performances for “The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon” and “Dog Tag,” so we’re sticking close to the West Bank and our home on the Arena stage today.

Jack - Eric Van Wyk - Mixed Blood

What can I say? I was greatly amused by the puppet entrails of the Fringe-For-All preview. Happens to be close by the Rarig, where we need to spend the bulk of our evening, so puppet entrails it shall be. Besides, Mom hasn’t seen a single puppet yet this Fringe, so her experience would not be quite complete without one. Show page here, video clip here.

Beowulf or Gilgamesh - You Decide - Chopping Block & Charlie Bethel - Rarig Center Arena

In my original post on No Refunds’ “Sun Tzu’s The Art of War” (great, by the way! see it) I mentioned that the spirit of Charlie Bethel was with us at the Fringe even if he himself was elsewhere. Well, guess what? He’s here! He came for a visit and when a last minute slot opened up in the festival schedule for Chopping Block, they called Charlie and now he’s not just visiting and seeing the Fringe, he’s in the Fringe. Not wanting to do a repeat of last year’s “Tom Thumb,” and his latest piece not being quite ready for audiences, he thought he’d call on a couple of old friends - “Beowulf” and “Gilgamesh.” But he couldn’t decide, so he’s letting the audience decide which story he’ll perform each night. If you like some extra control over your Fringe shows, this one’s for you. Mom and I can’t wait. Show page here, video clip here.

American Sexy - New Theatre Group - Rarig Center Arena

Another returning favorite. Director Brian Balcom always works with great playwrights and great actors, creating a brand new work tailor made for all the artists involved. After “How To Cheat” (which Mom loved, too), and last year’s “Killer Smile,” Mom and I are both really looking forward to seeing what the New Theater Group has up their sleeve this time. Show page here.

"The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon” and “Dog Tag” (#3 of 5) - Magicword Theater - Rarig Center Arena

Mom’s friend David is now armed with a Fringe schedule of his own. We were plotting with and advising him on how to make the most of his 10 show punch pass (of which he’s already used four on his first day, Fringing like a pro). He’ll join us at the end of the day for what he’s taken to calling “Bitch Tag,” which I kind of like.

And it just so happens that the final slot in Mom’s Fringe-going adventure also happens to be the next performance of my little double feature. So it’s a nice way to round out her last day of Fringing with me before heading back east to the family homestead.

She will have given her Ultra Pass quite the workout - 34 performances of 32 shows (being the good mother that she is and seeing all three performances of my show while she was here). That’s a new high watermark for her in terms of volume of theater during a Fringe visit. Now she, and the Ultra Pass, can have a little rest. Til next year.

After tonight we’ve got just two more performances, tomorrow, Thursday, August 7th at 5:30pm, and Saturday, August 9th at 8:30pm. So catch us while you can. If you’ve already seen us, help spread the word among those you know, and maybe even post an audience comment or two on our show page. Video clip here. Write-ups here, here and here.

More Reviews for "The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon" and "Dog Tag"

Tonight, after a couple of days off, the bronze bitch flies again...

"The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon" and "Dog Tag"

tonight, Wednesday, August 6th at 10pm - Rarig Center Arena

Plus, this morning we've got five more reviews from the audience attending the first two performances of "The Bronze Bitch Flies At Noon" and "Dog Tag". Nice to see it's sticking with them. Thanks to all who wrote, and feel free to write your own comments on our show page on the Fringe site to help tell other people why you liked it and why they should see it.

Totally Delightful

Unexpected love stories. Mouth covering giddy anticipation. Beautiful performances. - 4 kitties - Emily Gunyou Halaas

Pleasantly surprised...

The honesty, integrity and talent of these three young actors and a thoughtful, well-devised script prevents these two short shows from slipping into nothing more than cheap gay fantasies. Instead, we are given stories that are touching, enlightening and will not soon be forgotten. Joe Bombard's portrayal of Percy will definitely become one of this year's most unexpected and delightful performances. - 5 kitties - M. Be

Tight Writing and Keen Acting

What great pieces of theater. Carefully crafted scripts, especially Bronze Bitch, and the acting appeared effortless. Very funny to boot. Thanks for a great show. - 5 kitties - Christopher R. Smith

Funny and Touching

I also feel the first part of this show was best and had the most substance. The acting was great and I found myself wishing it would have been longer. The second piece had a great comedic element, but the story itself lacked a significant plot necessary to make it as good as the first. All in all, I'd definitely recommend it. - 5 kitties - Justin Windschitl

Plus a nod from fellow blogger Phillip Andrew Bennett Low...

Well-Written Catharsis

Insanely well-written example of a genre that I'm not a huge fan of -- romantic comedy, of the kind that seems to revolve primarily around catharsis and wish fulfillment. Didn't do a lot for me, but certainly wasn't unpleasant to sit through. - 3 kitties

His full review...

I walked away with the impression that I usually have after one of Matt Everett’s scripts: that they’re extraordinarily well-written, quick, clever, funny and lyrical; and that that writing is at the service of a subject that just plain doesn’t hold that much interest for me.

Someone joked afterwards that both plays kind of feel like the setup to an insanely well-written porn: they revolve around establishing an incredible degree of romantic and sexual tension between two good-looking protagonists, then fade to black before the payoff. But I’d argue that that’s not unique to Matt’s scripts, that’s typical of the genre: romantic comedies generally revolve around catharsis and wish fulfillment. They’re pornos that are obsessed with the nuances of the mating ritual, rather than the act of copulation itself.

So it’s well-written, and pleasant enough to sit through. But if you’re not really into the idea of fucking one of these dudes, it really doesn’t have a whole lot to say.


After tonight at 10pm, there are two performances left

Tomorrow - Thursday, August 7th at 5:30pm
Saturday, August 9th at 8:30pm

Join us if you can. We'd love to see you there.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Fringe 2008 - Review - Silent Poetry - Dean Hatton - 5 stars

(Well, I’d normally quote something from the show here, but it was mime.)

(Even the program was just a gesture from the ushers, not an actual piece of paper.)

Don’t worry. Contrary to what the publicity images might lead you to believe, there is no white face. There is no French black and white striped outfit. There are, however, a lot of laughs. There is also a great deal of beauty. Plus some food for thought thrown in for good measure.

This is mime you don’t have to feel weird about yourself for liking.

Dean Hatton understands that mime is a hard sell. He calls the production a collection of non-verbal comic and dramatic skits. But "Silent Poetry" is also billed as a tribute to Marcel Marceau, a teacher of Hatton’s. And you can’t say Marcel Marceau and pretend you’re not talking about mime.

But there are no invisible walls, there is no climbing of stairs, this is no pulling on ropes, there is no walking into a stiff wind. Hatton’s not trafficking in the cliches of mime. He’s doing what mime does - create something out of nothing. And the something he creates is pretty wonderful. A mix of children and adults in the audience were equally entertained and charmed.

He begins with “Alfred” - a man at war with his own hands. He finally has to strangle one. It’s a goofy battle of wills.

Then, one of my favorites, which I’ve seen before as part of a showcase production done by Maximum Verbosity - “Jackass The Mime.” He’s a street mime who falls back on the usual bag of tricks but nobody’s buying. Until he rolls his eyes at the injustice of it all and pretends to kill himself. Suddenly, passersby are interested, and putting money in his hat. So he must pretend to kill himself in ever more creative and gruesome ways in order to keep the money flowing and keep his audience from drifting away. A little dark, but still very funny.

We also witness the “Creation of the World,” where God is faced with the reality that when he creates the animals, the animals create feces. Guess who God creates to help him clean up the mess?

Another favorite was “The Soldier and the Butterfly,” in which a grunt in a war zone is dogged by a butterfly which seems to be indestructible and unshakeable. I found myself wondering just what secret identity that butterfly might be hiding. A fascinating little vignette, with some metaphysical underpinnings beneath the laughter.

There was also a man who couldn’t find a flower to cooperate in the whole “she loves me, she loves me not” routine, another man who kept drifting off during the sermon at church into science fiction adventures, and a concluding sequence of kite-flying which was quite lovely.

A lot of the things about clowning and what they’re calling physical theater work these days that I’ve come to admire, I’m starting to realize that they share a lot in common with mime. For all I know, maybe they actually come from the mime tradition.

I don’t give out five stars lightly. Dean Hatton knows his stuff. “Silent Poetry” is a production which fully engages the audience’s imagination, and fully engaging an audience is not an easy thing to do when you never say a word. There’s music. There’s a costume or two. But at its core, “Silent Poetry” is Dean Hatton creating something out of nothing.

It’s quite something.

Very Highly Recommended.

Remaining Performances -
Mixed Blood Theater
TONIGHT - Tuesday, August 5, 7pm
Saturday, August 9, 8:30 pm
Sunday, August 10th, 1pm

Fringe 2008 - Review - Shift - Jonas Goslow - 5 stars

“Be careful of the ideas you encounter in your lives, children. Ideas will go to great lengths to ensure their survival.”


In “Shift,” actor Jonas Goslow portrays a second-grader, a cyber-terrorist, a man who comes unglued when his wife suddenly abandons him, and a teacher who has reached his wit’s end. Nick Ryan, the author of “Shift,” ties the seemingly disparate tales of those characters together into:

- an assault on the declining state of the American educational system

- humankind’s obsession with creating ever larger scientific marvels before it fully comprehends the implications and consequences of using them

- the ultimately unknowable mysteries of the human heart and its capacity for love and forgiveness.


Unraveling a play like this is kind of like killing a joke by trying to explain why it’s funny. It works because all of the above is never stated flat out. The script makes its points by implication. The impact of those larger societal challenges on individuals we come to know and care about, often in spite of ourselves, makes the intellectual arguments into something solid - something with flesh and blood and bone.

The child who opens the play creates an elaborate adventure with his action figures and monsters and dinosaurs which turns out to be a cheeky exploration of scientists battling over the conflicting notions of evolution vs. creationism. The creationists are the heroes in this scenario (American), the evolutionists the villains (British). We also get a couple of other explorers of German and Asian descent, with Goslow going from childlike voice to the gallery of multiple accents with nary a stumble. It’s a deft piece of voice work keeping that juggling act and that story going at the same time. The characters of three grown men follow the child - each in their own way childlike themselves.

A teacher becomes so frustrated with the politics surrounding education - how it cuts funds and undercuts free thought and discussion - that he ends up railing about the complex injustices and power structures of the world, to a room full of second-graders. It’s a deliciously pointed and completely inappropriate rant, matched by an anonymous letter of rebuttal from a dissatisfied parent delivered to the classroom by one of the unseen children.

Members of the far flung cyber-collective The Hive plot to stop the activation of the Large Hadron Collider, a particle accelerator on the border of Switzerland and France. The Hive is convinced that the LHC will unhinge the basic laws of physics to the point where the entire world’s population would be in danger. Dismissed as a bunch of slacker geeks by the media and the powers that be, The Hive proves surprisingly effective. Like everything else in the play, The Hive is never portrayed as entirely right or entirely wrong. The notions of good and bad, heroes and villains, are fluid things, and “Shift” is smart enough to play with this uncertainty. The members of The Hive are an unsettling bunch - in look, in attitude. More unsettling still is the idea that they might be correct.

The only quibble I’ve got with the production is in regard to the first introduction of the members of The Hive. Visually, the look is arresting - the bug eyes on a ski mask, the sudden random twitching of the actor’s body. But aurally, it was confusing because the voice was electronically distorted. In a short burst, that might work. But the vocal introduction went on for quite a stretch, imparting a high volume of important information, all of which was, honestly, really hard to make out. While you could piece it together later from fragments threaded throughout the rest of the story, I think the whole thing would have been much simpler and easier to track if we’d just gotten the information clearly the first time around. But that is, literally, the only thing I can find fault with in this otherwise faultless production.

The man who loses his wife was the most compelling for me. First, she disappears. Then, in his search for her, the man comes to realize just how completely he will lose her. Waiting for the finality granted to him only through a phone line, he reaches out to talk to people who are strangers to him, even if they live right across the hall. Giving his wife the distance she seems to need, the abandoned husband starts to regain his own footing, his identity separate from her. Even when she is truly gone, he still manages to reclaim her, through memories of her, shared with others. The man starts out seeming pathetic and desperate, until we understand the reasons for his desperation. Like the child, or The Hive, the weak man turns out to be far stronger and more in control than the audience first imagines him.

The fact that all these characterizations, that all these plotlines, loop back in on one another, and create a snapshot encompassing the web of knowledge, technology, politics and love that bind the world together, is stunning. It happens in broad, sweeping strokes, as well as the slenderest of connecting threads (one especially nice touch, the name of the missing wife, and the section of the Large Hadron Collider breached by The Hive, are both the same - Alice). Both the script, and the production of it, are something I’m still teasing apart in my head days later. I’ll probably be dissecting “Shift” for days to come. A fellow audience member commented that they want to get a copy of the script so they can study it. I’d second that strategy. Though the production itself is a complete experience, it also feels like something that rewards further contact with further insights.

It’s not just an intellectual exercise. It’s not just a comedy. It’s not just an adventure. It’s not just an unusual love story. It’s not just a satire. It’s all these things. It’s why “Shift” is a show I want to see again - a rarity at Fringe time, or any other time of year.

If you like “Shift,” you’ll probably also enjoy Nick Ryan’s other two scripts in the Fringe this year - “Mortem Capiendum” for Four Humors at the Rarig Center Thrust stage (already an out-of-town hit at other Fringes), and “The Spaceman Chronicles” for Sanguine Theater at Theatre de la Jeune Lune.


Very Highly Recommended.

Remaining performances -
Bryant Lake Bowl
TONIGHT - Tuesday, August 5th, 6pm
Thursday, August 7th, 8pm
Sunday, August 10, 12pm

Fringe 2008 - Review - Sun Tzu's The Art of War - No Refunds - 5 stars

“If you are not in danger, do not fight.”

If you need a really good laugh (with some formidable brains and talent behind it), have I got a show for you. That show would be No Refunds Theatre Co.’s staging of the classic military strategy text, Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War.”

No. Really.

Actually if you want a laugh, it begins with the program - an almost completely fabricated biography of the original author, cheeky bios under the heading “Who The Hell Are These People?,” and a director’s note that is largely just a picture of one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles above the words - “Sun Tzu is Chinese. Ninjas are Japanese. I know. I don’t care.”

This disclaimer is necessary because while the text is almost entirely drawn from Sun Tzu’s book (minus the introduction and conclusion of the play), it is largely performed with the help of No Refund’s signature characters, the ninjas. Charlie Bethel, well-known for his whipsmart one-man adaptations and performances of classics such as Beowolf and Tom Thumb, adapted the book with director Matt Dawson, and the collision of the two styles works wonderfully well.

Playing what would be the traditional Charlie Bethel role of host/narrator/creator of characters in this production is the urbane John Middleton, much of the time wielding humor as dry as a perfect martini. In opposition to Middleton’s self-possession is a trio of whacked-out ninjas clad from head to toe in black, only their extremely expressive eyes showing. The ninjas are Kiseung Rhee as most of the royal characters, Mike Postle as Sun Tzu and most of the military commander characters, and Christopher Howie as the tall and hapless military grunt, the target of many of the other two characters’ assaults and even the narrator’s disdain. This combination of Bethel’s style and that of No Refunds could have stumbled by being too goofy (not respecting the source) or dull (respecting the source so much that one forgets to stage it for a live audience). The fact that it doesn’t wander into either of those trouble spots is something of a minor miracle, and they’re to be commended for pulling it off.

The text is crisp, simple military theory, interspersed with Sun Tzu’s own illustrative examples of what to do, and not to do, in action. Middelton keeps things moving along verbally, while the ninjas alternate between a sort of martial arts version of interpretive dance and role-playing as the narrator dictates. Middleton does get in on a bit of the oddball fun when providing the voices for the story of Sun Tzu demonstrating his theories for an emperor using the ruler’s army of concubines as stand-ins for soldiers. Sun Tzu’s voice is a John Wayne impersonation that I like to think must be a nod to the Duke’s one big blunder into costume drama when he took on the role of Ghengis Khan in “The Conqueror” (The movie is painfully awful, and truly beautiful. You’ll laugh til your eyes bleed. Rent it. The fact that they filmed it downwind of nuclear test sites before anyone thought radiation was a bad thing and most of the cast ended up dying years later of cancer just makes it weirder. Only in America.)

This is unfortunately the perfect time for a show like Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. I say unfortunately because our country is currently waging a handful of wars of its own devising and one wishes our political leaders had read Sun Tzu before embarking on their adventures. Sun Tzu understood the practicalities of war - terrain, politics, leadership, morale, provisioning, and above all, diplomacy. One of the more ruefully funny parts of the book concerns Tzu’s assertion that the greatest victories in war are the ones that are never fought, the ones in which no one raises a weapon, and no soldier loses their life. These victories are won by negotiation and are almost never the subject of song and story. But only the smartest and best strategists ever win them. The audience brings its own subtext into the theater with them. About halfway through the performance, I didn’t think I could laugh at the show anymore. All I could think was “Oh man, it’s so blatantly clear. Common sense, completely ignored. We’ve done everything wrong. We are so screwed.” Yet laugh I did. Because Bethel, Dawson, Middleton and the Ninjas know if we don’t find some way to laugh at it all, we’ll go mad.

On top of the misfortunes of the enemy soldiers portrayed by Howie who keep getting the stuffing beaten out of them...

Beyond the giggle-inducing demonstrations with action figures, stuffed animals, and crude maps scrawled on muslin...

The big laughs come at the expense of the leader with no military experience who thinks he knows better than his generals. Rhee, as the incompetent emperor making one poor decision after another in Middleton’s list of missteps, also makes a series of slow double-takes to the audience which become increasingly amusing. The leader is never mentioned by name. There is no need. Those who are inclined to get the joke, will get the joke. Those who aren’t can just enjoy the inept antics of the witless emperor trying to conduct a battle with no allies, no knowledge of the enemy, or strategy (yes, a “strategery” sign makes a fleeting comic appearance). That’s one of the charms of this clever presentation - it’s full of comedy and common sense anyone can appreciate, but each audience member can make up their own mind what it all means, and how it might apply to our current world order. If you’re not in the mood for political satire, it works as slapstick. If you’re not in the mood for mindless comedy, there’s a high IQ just below the surface winking at you if you want to be in on the bigger, and slightly darker, joke.

The first time around, during their wonderful run at the Bryant Lake Bowl, I forgot to note the Mambo. This would be the non-narrated portion of the program, in which the Ninjas dance around with an enormous pad of paper - interpreting the text for the audience to the best of their abilities by shaking their money-makers.

The No Refunds crew takes full advantage of the far vaster stage at the Rarig Center Proscenium this time around. Expanded in size, the military maneuvers get an extra comic jolt. If there’s any justice in this Fringey world, the extra seats at the Rarig will all be filled as well. This is a leaner, tighter production, perfect Fringe fare.

As the No Refunds site - - says, “For more information on Sun Tzu or the Art of War, visit your local library, or ask your mom.” Or, just visit their show page on the Fringe site, they have links there - to Sun Tzu and the Art of War, not your mom.

It's both comforting and a little disconcerting that this military advice has been around, proven right, and regularly ignored, since around 500 B.C. Worth revisiting in this comic context. After all, those who forget the past...

Very Highly Recommended

Remaining Performances -
University of Minnesota Rarig Center Proscenium
TONIGHT - Tuesday, August 5th, 8:30pm
Thursday, August 7th, 7pm
Friday, August 8th, 8:30pm
Saturday, August 9, 10pm